Snowden needs world's protection: Venezuela

2013-07-02 11:02
The transit zone at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow. (File, AP)

The transit zone at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow. (File, AP)

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Moscow - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Tuesday that Edward Snowden, the former US spy agency contractor, deserved the "world's protection" for divulging details of Washington's spy programme.

Snowden, wanted by Washington on spying charges for revealing the secret US electronic surveillance programme Prism, has applied for political asylum in 19 countries, including Russia, in his search for safety.

He is currently in legal limbo in the transit area of a Moscow airport.

Breaking his silence on Monday after almost nine days in Sheremetyevo airport, the 30-year-old challenged Washington by saying he was free to publish more about its spy programmes - something which ruled out a prolonged stay in Russia.

A spokesperson for President Vladimir Putin said the 30-year-old, who worked for the National Security Agency as a contractor in Hawaii, withdrew his request when the Russian leader said he should give up his "anti-American activity".

But while countries lined up to deny receiving asylum requests, Venezuela, part of an alliance of leftist governments in Latin America, said it was time to stop berating a man who has "done something very important for humanity".

US warning

"He deserves the world's protection. He has not asked us for it yet. When he does we will give our answer," Maduro told Reuters during a visit to Moscow.

He said he would consider an asylum application if Snowden made one after his request for safety in Ecuador, which has sheltered the founder of antisecrecy group WikiLeaks Julian Assange in its London embassy, had apparently ended.

Washington has made clear to a number of countries that granting him asylum would carry costs.

Norwegian authorities confirmed on Tuesday that Snowden has applied for asylum there, but it appeared unlikely Oslo would grant his request.
 
"Delivering an application for asylum from abroad is in principle not allowed," Norwegian deputy justice secretary Paal Loenseth told state broadcaster NRK.

"Applying for asylum should be done on Norwegian soil. According to normal procedures ... his demand will be denied."

Earlier, the Foreign Ministry said it had received an application for asylum from Snowden by fax to its embassy in Moscow on Monday afternoon.

The Foreign Ministry spokesperson declined to give details about the content of the letter or from where the fax was sent to the embassy.

Read more on:    edward snowden  |  nicolas maduro  |  ecuador  |  norway  |  us  |  russia  |  venezuela  |  privacy
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