The Guardian is using tactics from the police TV series The Wire to stay in contact with NSA hacker Edward Snowden, it has been claimed.

The newspaper is reportedly using pay-as-you-go mobile phones that are untraceable to keep in touch with Snowden, who has been missing since he told the Guardian the US government is able to spy on people around the world through its Prism programme.

According to the UK Press Gazette Editor Alan Rusbridger and other executives have been given pay-as-you-go phones to keep in touch with Snowden.

However, the Guardian refused to confirm or deny the allegation, saying it "wouldn't comment on any security measures the group takes".

Whether the Guardian is actively in touch with Snowden and aware of his location is also unknown.

The US has issued a warrant for Snowden's arrest last week but he was able to leave China because paperwork issued by the states was incomplete. No one is entirely sure where Snowden is now.

Protect the helpless

He was believed to have travelled to Russia, with the intention of going to Equador to gain asylum. However, he never boarded a flight to Cuba and Russian president Vladimir Putin said he is somewhere in to Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport.

Venezuelan president Nicholas Madura has said he would consider giving Snowden asylum but stressed he has not yet formally sought refuge in his country.

"We would consider it, because the asylum is a measure of humanitarian protection and is a mechanism of the international humanitarian law, which is popular in Latin America and was always used to protect [the] helpless," Maduro said.

"No one has the right to spy after someone else and this youngster [Snowden], who told the world about it, deserves humanitarian protection."

Anti-secrecy group WikiLleaks has said it is facilitating Snowden's travel and asylum arrangements but said he could end up in Russia permanently because of "bullying" on the part of the US government.

President Obama, who is currently on a visit to South Africa, said he will not "scramble jets" to intercept Snowden: "No, I am not going to be scrambling jets to get a hacker," he said. "I have not called President Xi personally or President Putin personally. I shouldn't have to.

"This is something that routinely is dealt between law enforcement officials in various countries."