Don’t search for “Snowden” on Twitter right now unless you want to end up totally confused.
Or just want to be amused.
We’ll walk through the dizzying developments of the last hour or so:
— First, Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the Foreign Affairs committee of Russia’s state Duma, tweeted that “NSA leaker” Edward Snowden had accepted an asylum offer from Venezuela. Snowden, as you probably know, is thought to be in legal limbo at the transit zone of Moscow’s airport. He’s trying to avoid being sent back to the U.S., where he would be prosecuted for spilling secrets about National Security Agency surveillance programs.
— Pushkov’s tweet led to a flurry of retweets, an Associated Press report about Pushkov’s statement, and a slew of stories on newssites around the Web.
— Then Pushkov deleted his tweet. Uh-oh. That’s usually a sign that someone thinks he shouldn’t have said what he just said.
— Pushkov came back minutes later with a tweet that said “Information that Snowden accepted an offer of asylum from Maduro came from 18-hour release of ‘Vesti 24’.” That’s a Russian news channel.
— But Vesti 24 wasn’t mentioning this scoop on its website or its Twitter page. Hmm. Instead, NPR’s Corey Flintoff told us from Moscow that “Vesti 24’s 7 p.m. is quoting Pushkov” about Snowden’s supposed-decision.
— Meanwhile, reports popped up that the government of Venezuela had “confirmed” that Snowden accepted its offer. But the story those reports were citing had Pushkov, not Venezuelan authorities, as its source.
So, we had a couple circles. Pushkov cited Vesti 24, which cited Pushkov. And the Venezuelans cited Pushkov, who cited Vesti 24, which was citing Pushkov.
Meanwhile, where will Snowden end up if he does leave the transit area of Moscow’s airport — where he’s been the past two weeks?
As we’ve said, Venezuela is among the likely places. He may need a private jet to get there, though.