Assange urges Snowden to seek asylum in S. America, Russia

MOSCOW (AFP) - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange advised whistleblower Edward Snowden to try to seek political asylum in Russia or South America, as Russia confirmed on Wednesday that if Mr Snowden made an asylum request it would be considered.

Mr Snowden, a former Central Intelligence Agency technical assistant who leaked information on the United States government's monitoring of Internet use and phone records, is believed to be holed up in Hong Kong.

The spokesman of Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that if Mr Snowden applied for asylum, Russia would consider his case.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the ITAR-TASS news agency early on Wednesday while on a trip to Brazil that he had not heard of any asylum request from Mr Snowden, but that "if a request is submitted, we will examine it."

"I think he would be well advised to consider that offer. He would be considered to try to find a similar offer in South America," Assange told RT television, a Kremlin-funded English-language channel in an interview aired late on Tuesday.

Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for nearly a year after claiming asylum. RT used to air a talk show hosted by Assange from his previous house arrest in London.

"Latin America has a real personal interest in what is going on and of course Russia understands this game and Putin understands this game for a long time now, and I'm sure that once honour was on the table in such an offer, that it would not be rescinded."