Bolivia’s Morales offers asylum to US leaker Snowden

Agence France-Presse
Morales says he would grant asylum to Snowden if he requests it

Bolivia's President Evo Morales looks on during the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, 01 July 2013. EPA/Maxim Shemetov

LA PAZ, Bolivia (Updated) – Bolivian President Evo Morales on Saturday, July 6, said he would grant asylum, if asked, to fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, the 3rd leftist Latin American leader in two days to make such an offer.

Declaring that Bolivia has “no fear” of the United States and its European allies, Morales said that he would be willing “to give asylum to the American, if he asks.”

Snowden remains stranded in a Moscow airport, where he has now been holed up for 14 days. The offers, including on Friday from Venezuela and Nicaragua, raised hope he may finally be able to leave Russia, though it remains unclear how exactly Snowden could reach another nation from the transit zone of Russia’s sprawling Sheremetyevo international airport.

Snowden had already been denied asylum by many of the 21 countries to which he had applied last week.

The WikiLeaks anti-secrecy website that has been supporting Snowden’s cause said he had recently applied to 6 additional countries that it refused to name.

President Nicolas Maduro — whose Venezuelan government had long relished its role as an irritant to Washington under previous president Hugo Chavez — offered “humanitarian asylum to the young Snowden … to protect this young man from the persecution launched by the most powerful empire in the world.”

Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega also declared that Managua “would receive Snowden with pleasure and give him asylum here in Nicaragua.”

This latest asylum offer for Snowden followed a major diplomatic kerfuffle this weekend when several European nations denied landing rights to Morales’ presidential airplane, amid fears that he was sheltering Snowden onboard.

In what was seen as a further afront, the plane was forced to land in Vienna and searched, but no trace of Snowden was found on the aircraft.

Morales, who has accused Washington of pressuring European nations to deny him their airspace, warned he would “study, if necessary, closing the US embassy in Bolivia.”

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