CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro offered Friday, July 5, to give “humanitarian asylum” to US intelligence leaker EdwardSnowden, sending a glimmer of hope to the man whose revelations rocked the American government and security establishment.
Moments earlier in Nicaragua, President Daniel Ortega broke nearly two weeks of deadlock for Snowden — who has been in limbo at Moscow’s international airport since June 23 — noting that “if circumstances permit” his government would be willing to give asylum to the US fugitive.
Snowden, whose passport was revoked by his country, is wanted for disclosing a vast electronic surveillance program in the United States. He has applied for asylum in 27 nations but several European countries rebuffed him earlier this week. Leftist Latin American leaders, however, have voiced sympathy for the 30-year-old IT specialist.
Protection from persecution
“As head of state of the Boliviarian republic of Venezuela, I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young Snowden … to protect this young man from the persecution launched by the most powerful empire in the world,” Maduro said at an independence day event.
“I announced to the friendly governments of the world that we have decided to offer this international human right to protect this young man,” said Maduro, who had previously suggested he would consider offering Snowden asylum.
Ortega, also at a public event, said: “We are open, respectful of the right to asylum, and it is clear that if circumstances permit it, we would receiveSnowden with pleasure and give him asylum here in Nicaragua.”
Ecuador had been seen as the American’s best hope when he arrived at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport from Hong Kong, but the leftist government in Quito has yet to consider his application.
WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy website aiding Snowden, revealed on Tuesday the name of 21 nations in which he applied for asylum, and it disclosed Friday that he was seeking shelter in six more countries.
“They will not be named at this time due to attempted US interference,” WikiLeaks wrote on its Tweeter feed.
Snowden’s flight from justice has embarrassed the administration of US President Barack Obama and caused tensions this week between European and Latin American nations after an incident involving the Bolivian president’s plane.
Bolivia accused France, Portugal, Italy and Spain of denying Morales flyover rights because they believed Snowden was aboard as he returned home from Russia late Tuesday, July 2.
Leftist South American leaders rallied around Morales at a special summit late Thursday, July 4, in which they demanded an apology from the European nations.
The Bolivian leader, who suggested that the United States pressured Europeans to close their airspace to him, threatened to close the US embassy. Maduro claimed that the CIA had ordered Europeans to divert the plane.
Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo said his government was told Snowden was aboard Morales’ flight, but he denied that Madrid had refused overfly rights to the Bolivian president’s aircraft.
Margallo did not identify who provided the apparently faulty intelligence that Snowden was aboard the presidential jet. – Rappler.com