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Tired of helping the CIA? Quit Facebook, Venezuela minister urges

A man uses an iPad with a Facebook app in this photo illustration in Sofia January 30, 2013. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov
A man uses an iPad with a Facebook app in this photo illustration in Sofia January 30, 2013. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

CARACAS (Reuters) - A Venezuelan government minister on Wednesday urged citizens to shut Facebook accounts to avoid being unwitting informants for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, referring to recent revelations about U.S. surveillance programs.

Edward Snowden, a former U.S. National Security Agency contractor who is stuck in a Moscow airport while seeking to avoid capture by the United States, last month leaked details about American intelligence agencies obtaining information from popular websites including Facebook.

"Comrades: cancel your Facebook accounts, you've been working for free as CIA informants. Review the Snowden case!" wrote Prisons Minister Iris Varela on her Twitter account.

Venezuela has offered to provide asylum for Snowden, but he has not responded and appears unable to leave the transit zone of Sheremetyevo International Airport.

He exposed a program known as Prism that relied on customer data supplied by major technology companies.

"Countries and people that have fallen victim to gringo spying should sue the United States to ensure fair compensation. We're going to bankrupt the U.S. economy!" wrote Varela, known for radical rhetoric and ardent support of the late socialist leader Hugo Chavez.

(Reporting by Diego Ore; Editing by Will Dunham)

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