News / Americas

    Three Latin American Leftist Leaders Offer Asylum to Snowden

    Bolivian President Evo Morales talks to journalists at the Vienna International Airport in Schwechat, July 3, 2013.Bolivian President Evo Morales talks to journalists at the Vienna International Airport in Schwechat, July 3, 2013.
    x
    Bolivian President Evo Morales talks to journalists at the Vienna International Airport in Schwechat, July 3, 2013.
    Bolivian President Evo Morales talks to journalists at the Vienna International Airport in Schwechat, July 3, 2013.
    Reuters
     Bolivia offered asylum on Saturday to former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, joining leftist allies Venezuela and Nicaragua in defiance of Washington, which is demanding his arrest for divulging details of secret U.S. spy programs.

    Snowden, 30, is believed to be holed up in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo international airport and has been trying to find a country that would give him sanctuary after he landed there from Hong Kong on June 23.

    Bolivian President Evo Morales had said earlier this week that he would consider granting asylum to Snowden. But he took a harder line on Saturday, angered that some European countries banned his plane from their airspace this week on suspicion it carried Snowden.

    “I want to tell... the Europeans and Americans that last night I was thinking that as a fair protest, I want to say that now in fact we are going to give asylum to that American who is being persecuted by his fellow Americans,” Morales said during a visit to the town of Chipaya.

    “If we receive a legal request, we will grant asylum,” he said. Bolivia's Foreign Ministry was not immediately available to comment on whether a formal asylum request had been received.

    Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro also offered refuge to Snowden late Friday, but the government said that by Saturday night it had not received any word back.

    Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said his country had received an asylum request and could agree to it “if circumstances permit.”

    All three nations are members of the leftist ALBA bloc of countries that was forged by Venezuela's late Hugo Chavez and whose leaders often denounce U.S. “imperial” aggression.

    Russia has kept Snowden at arm's length, saying the airport's transit area where passengers wait between flights is neutral territory and that he would only be on Russian soil if he went through passport control.

    It was not clear whether the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor would accept any of the Latin American offers, nor how he would reach the countries if he does.

    There are no direct commercial flights between Moscow and Venezuela's capital, Caracas, and the usual route involves changing planes in Havana. It is not clear if Cuban authorities would let him transit, however, and there was no sign of Snowden aboard the flight to Havana on Saturday.

    To obtain refugee status in Bolivia, Snowden would have to submit a request to the Bolivian Embassy in Russia and would not have to be physically in Bolivia, said former Foreign Minister Armando Loayza. Ecuador, which also backs Snowden, says it could only consider granting him asylum if he made it that country.

    Given the dramatic grounding in Vienna of Morales' plane, using European airspace could prove problematic.

    Russia impatient

    Moscow has shown signs of growing impatience. Its Russia's deputy foreign minister said on Thursday that Snowden had not sought asylum there and needed to choose a place to go.

    Moscow has made clear that the longer he stays, the greater the risk of the diplomatic standoff over his fate causing lasting damage to relations with Washington.

    Both Russia's Foreign Ministry and President Vladimir Putin's spokesman declined to comment on Venezuela's offer.

    “This is not our affair,” said spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

    But senior pro-Kremlin lawmaker Alexei Pushkov, head of the lower house of parliament's international affairs committee, said asylum in Venezuela would be Snowden's best option.

    The White House declined to comment. But one U.S. official familiar with the matter, who asked for anonymity, said: “It's fair to say in general that U.S. officials have been pressuring governments where Snowden might try to go to do the right thing here.”

    Morales, Bolivia's first indigenous leader and a former union leader for the country's coca leaf farmers, and Maduro both condemned the U.S. spy programs that Snowden revealed and said he deserved protection.

    “Who is the guilty one? A young man ... who denounces war plans, or the U.S. government which launches bombs and arms the terrorist Syrian opposition against the people and legitimate President Bashar al-Assad?” Maduro asked, to applause and cheers from ranks of military officers at a parade.

    “Who is the terrorist? Who is the global delinquent?”

    Foreign Minster Elias Jaua said late on Saturday that Venezuela had not heard from Snowden since Maduro made his offer.

    “There has not been any type of communication,” Jaua told state television. “We are waiting until Monday to know whether he confirms his wish to take asylum in Venezuela.”

    Since narrowly winning a presidential vote in April that followed Chavez's death from cancer, Maduro has often lambasted the United States, even accusing it of plotting to kill him.

    But the former bus driver and union leader has at times also struck a much more conciliatory note, saying he is ready for better relations with Washington, based on mutual respect.

    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    More Americas News

    In Colombia, Abortion Is Legal but Denied to Many Women, Advocates Say

    Colombia, a nation of 48 million people, allows abortion in cases of rape, incest, fetal malformation, if the fetus is at risk and if the health, both physical and mental, of the mother is at risk

    Colombia Says 2 More Journalists Missing in Rough Area

    Journalists missing in region where security forces are already carrying out massive search for prominent Spanish journalist, President Juan Manuel Santos said Tuesday

    Cuba to Legalize Small, Medium-sized Private Businesses

    Move could significantly expand space allowed for private enterprise in one of world's last communist countries

    Coca Cola to Halt Some Production in Venezuela

    Sugar shortages and a deep recession have been forcing production shutdowns across the country

    Recording Allegedly Shows Minister Plotting Against Brazil's Rousseff

    Planning Minister Romero Jucá, who will step down temporarily, denies allegation, says words in published transcript of tape were taken out of context

    Mercury Poisoning Prompts Peru to Declare State of Emergency in Amazon

    People, rivers and fish poisoned; government blames illegal gold mining