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

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Relatives Doubt 42 Men Died in Mexico Ranch Shootout

The lopsided death toll and photographs from the scene in which bodies appeared to have been moved have raised questions
More

Pope Beatifies Murdered Salvadoran Archbishop

Hundreds of thousands of worshippers converge on Salvadoran capital to witness papal declaration for late Oscar Romero - now one step from Roman Catholic sainthood
More

Scores Killed in Western Mexico Gunfight

Officials say almost every person killed in Michoacan state shootout was a suspected gang member
More

Latest US-Cuban Talks Ends in Washington

Both sides cite progress on restoring diplomatic ties, but no final agreement reached
More

Tutu Lends Support to Age Campaign

Help Age International has launched Action 2015 campaign
More

Colombia Kills 18 FARC Rebels

The bombing raid took place in the Cauca region of western Colombia
More