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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

US-Cuba Move Ends Decades of Island's Isolation

Cuban revolution, outreach to Soviets set off years of antipathy between Washington, Havana
More

Colombia's FARC Rebels Declare Conditional Unlimited Ceasefire

Group says it is also demanding high-profile certification of its ceasefire through the UN, Red Cross or regional intergovernmental organization
More

American Lawmakers, Others Split on US-Cuba Moves

Some praise approach; Florida Senator Rubio denounces ‘victory for oppressive Cuban government’
More

An Elated Alan Gross: 'It's Good to be Home'

'This is a game changer,' newly-freed political prisoner tells audience, referring to his release and the US policy shift toward Cuba
More

Over $6 Trillion Lost to Illicit Flows

Study says developing nations hurt by corruption, tax evasion
More

New Policy Will Dramatically Alter US-Cuba Relations

Plan will renew diplomatic ties, ease restrictions on travel and remittances, altering how Cubans and Americans can interact
More