Nicaragua, Venezuela OK Snowden asylum

2013-07-06 07:30

Caracas - The presidents of Nicaragua and Venezuela offered Friday to grant asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden, one day after leftist South American leaders gathered to denounce the rerouting of Bolivian President Evo Morales' plane over Europe amid reports that the American was aboard.

Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua made their offers during separate speeches in their home countries Friday afternoon. Snowden, who is being sought by the United States, has asked for asylum in numerous countries, including Nicaragua and Venezuela.

"As head of state, the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young American Edward Snowden so that he can live in the homeland" of independence leader Simon Bolivar and the late President Hugo Chavez without "persecution from the empire," Maduro said, referring to the United States.

Chavez often engaged in similar defiance, criticizing US-style capitalism and policies. In a 2006 speech to the UN General Assembly of world leaders, Chavez called President George W Bush the devil, saying the podium reeked of sulphur after the US president's address. He also accused Washington of plotting against him, expelled several diplomats and drug-enforcement agents and threatened to stop sending oil to the US.

Maduro made the offer during a speech marking the anniversary of Venezuela's independence. It was not immediately clear if there were any conditions to Venezuela's offer. He added that several other Latin American governments have also expressed their intention of taking a similar stance by offering asylum for the cause of "dignity".

But his critics said Maduro's decision is nothing but an attempt to veil the current undignified conditions of Venezuela, including one of the world's highest inflation rates and a shortage of basic products like toilet paper.

"The asylum doesn't fix the economic disaster, the record inflation, an upcoming devaluation [of the currency], and the rising crime rate," Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles said in his Twitter account. Maduro beat Capriles in April's presidential election, but Capriles has not recognised defeat and has called it an electoral fraud.

Asked earlier this week about the possibility that any countries in the region would offer Snowden asylum, Geoff Thale, program director at the Washington Office on Latin America think tank, said that he thought Ortega would be careful not to damage his country's relationship with the US.

"Ortega has been tremendously successful at exploiting both the Alba relationship and the US relationship," Thale said, referring to the Alba leftist trade bloc that provides Nicaragua with petroleum subsidies. Although Ortega is publicly seen as anti-American, "Nicaragua and the US cooperate very closely on drug interdiction and the US and Nicaraguan militaries work very closely, too," Thale said before the asylum offer was made.

If circumstances allow

Ortega said Friday he was willing to make Maduro's same offer "if circumstances allow it," although he didn't say what the right circumstances would be when he spoke during a speech in Managua.

He said the Nicaraguan embassy in Moscow received Snowden's application for asylum and that it is studying the request.

"We have the sovereign right to help a person who felt remorse after finding out how the United States was using technology to spy on the whole world, and especially its European allies," Ortega said.

The offers came one day after Maduro joined other leftist South American presidents Thursday in Cochabamba, Bolivia, to rally behind Morales and denounce the incident involving the plane.

Spain on Friday said it had been warned along with other European countries that Snowden, a former US intelligence worker, was aboard the Bolivian presidential plane, an acknowledgement that the manhunt for the fugitive leaker had something to do with the plane's unexpected diversion to Austria.

It is unclear whether the United States warned Madrid about the Bolivian president's plane. U.S. officials will not detail their conversations with European countries, except to say that they have stated the U.S.'s general position that it wants Snowden back.

President Barack Obama has publicly displayed a relaxed attitude toward Snowden's movements, saying last month that he wouldn't be "scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker."

But the drama surrounding the flight of Morales, whose plane was abruptly rerouted to Vienna after apparently being denied permission to fly over France, suggests that pressure is being applied behind the scenes.

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo told Spanish National Television that "they told us that the information was clear, that he was inside."

He did not identify who "they" were and declined to say whether he had been in contact with the U.S. But he said that European countries' decisions were based on the tip. France has since sent a letter of apology to the Bolivian government.

Meanwhile, secret-spilling website WikiLeaks said that Snowden, who is still believed to be stuck in a Moscow airport's transit area, had put in asylum applications to six new countries. He had already sought asylum from more than 20 countries. Many have turned him down.

Wikileaks said in a message posted to Twitter on Friday that it wouldn't be identifying the countries involved "due to attempted US interference."

Icelandic lawmakers introduced a proposal in Parliament on Thursday to grant immediate citizenship to Snowden, but the idea received minimal support.

Galeano reported from Managua, Nicaragua. Associated Press Writer Olga R. Rodriguez contributed to this story from Mexico City.

  • Treasure Thabede - 2013-07-06 08:01

    now this is another chapter for the USA. Just when they thought they have cornerd him(snowden)

      IAnon Ym - 2013-07-06 08:56

      Now there are two countries who show balls - as for the rest of you gutless nations - Shame on You! Don't care what you do with your own people America, but leave the rest of the world alone.

      Sean Bagley - 2013-07-06 09:14

      At least Snowden has more than one option for asylum.If Snowden was a Russian or Chinese "dissident",I wonder would the Americans have granted him asylum? Trouble is if this man Snowden is such a hero,then why does he have so much trouble finding asylum in the 1st place? The countries that grant Snowden asylum,what would they have done if one of their own citizen's was accused of spying or releasing classified documents from their own country? The "running man" Snowden will get incinerated if he ever gets caught by the US.

      Honeya Badger - 2013-07-06 12:25

      This is not another a chapter on anything! It's real world espionage drama that beats any spy movie hands down.

  • Aghora - 2013-07-06 08:11

    The American government is showing it's true colour's. It is in fact a repressive regime... look no further than the manning case, this and gitmo. The struggle now is worldwide - is it democracy or unaccountable government that will win the day.

      Mandingo Queen - 2013-07-06 08:32

      It's a fascist police state, the trail of bombs and dead bodies should prove that if nothing else!

      mario.dippenaar - 2013-07-06 08:40

      Hitler once entered a Hitler-look-alike contest, but he only came in second. Obama came first. Upvotes to the left.

      Mark Smith - 2013-07-06 08:47

      @HerpyHooves - if your mother had a moustache she would have won it.

      mario.dippenaar - 2013-07-06 08:54

      @barkt Well FYI she did win a fake moustache at the tombola. But your mother Is a hamster and your father smelled of Elderberries.

  • Diran Pillay - 2013-07-06 08:37

    Tough call Venezuela

  • Werner Van Heerden - 2013-07-06 08:37

    I have to admit, I've never really been "against" the USA, nor "for" them. But they have gone too far now, their dirty laundry is... just too much.

  • Angela Gilmour - 2013-07-06 08:46

    i'm afraid that the number of educated and so called intelligent people in the world are blissfully unaware of the 'dirty tactics' being employed by those whom they have elected to power. There can be no doubt that power corrupts, and it is unfortunate that the good intention of the electorate is being manipulated and abused by those who are elected to serve the very ones who put them in office. I doubt there are many Governments who don't fall prey to corrupt practces.

  • Attie007 - 2013-07-06 08:47

    Goodluck getting there alive

  • Mike Moouse - 2013-07-06 08:50


  • Anwar Khan - 2013-07-06 08:51

    one man ya just one man,causing suc an uproar...and he is not even a terrorist..

  • Loyiso Ncapayi - 2013-07-06 08:51

    To me its surprising that people are surprised by the actions of the USA now,their democracy has always been democracy as defined by them,they prescripe what freedom is,with the knowledge that the truths of freedom and democracy they created would blind the masses and lead them to blind obidience in the name of patrioticism,if by now we have not seen through the capitalist-neo-liberalist ideal as a demonic institution that it is then we are bound to be caught in this matrix of lies,deceit and indoctrination by the so called voice of authority....

      Sean Bagley - 2013-07-06 09:37

      How the US is the biggest violator of human rights: (1)America is the only country that's holding hundreds of prisoners in permanent detention, without charges, without a trial, without lawyers, and without access to the due process of law. (2)America is the only country that is killing people in other countries without a legal system,i.e.,their drone strikes which is murder, plain and simple. (3)America's NSA has unrestrained spying activities on everyone on the planet.They spy on everyone, friends or enemies alike which is a violation of human rights, and the sovereignty of other countries? (4)America is bullying European nations to get them to violate Bolivia's sovereignty by diverting the Bolivian presidential plane and in refusing Evo Morales to ground it and them trying to search it in France. Would the American ever allow such an act of aggression on Air Force One and for it to be diverted and searched?

      Rocco DeWet - 2013-07-08 20:07

      Yeah right. If it wasn't for the US, Hitler would have ruled the World, followed by Stalin and now perhaps China's leader. With regards to Hitler's reign you may have been seriously out of luck if you hair wasn't blonde and your eyes were not blue. Under Stalin you would have been in serious trouble if you were university educated, which may have been good for most of the contributors here. And under China, who knows? We will be finding out in the forseeable future. I suspect wire-tapping will be the least of our problems. Most of the contributors here absolutely fails to see the big picture.

  • Donovan Hendricks - 2013-07-06 08:52

    Shortage of toiletpaper? Was Venezuela not so long ago hailed as an outstanding model regarding nationalisation and prosperity by fat foolius?

      Ric Surfers Paradise - 2013-07-06 09:18

      You should clean your own Hut . before commenting on another country .

  • peet.beukes.1 - 2013-07-06 08:56

    Whoever wrote the article must go and ask his schoolfees back. One of the worst written articles..

  • Bob Wowzer - 2013-07-06 09:07

    Nicoagua is one of the few Central/South American countries I'd ever voluntarilly go to, so that'd be my choice if I were him...

  • Sean Bagley - 2013-07-06 09:14

    At least Snowden has more than one option for asylum.If Snowden was a Russian or Chinese "dissident",I wonder would the Americans have granted him asylum? Trouble is if this man Snowden is such a hero,then why does he have so much trouble finding asylum in the 1st place? The countries that grant Snowden asylum,what would they have done if one of their own citizen's was accused of spying or releasing classified documents from their own country? The "running man" Snowden will get incinerated if he ever gets caught by the US.

      Mandingo Queen - 2013-07-06 11:00

      Given the actions from spineless EU countries like Spain, France and Portugal, we can be quite certain that Assange's fears over the attempts to extradite him to Sweden aren't unfounded paranoia as well.

  • Lee Duke - 2013-07-06 09:56

    Let him come to South Africa I am sure the ANC will welcome him

      Juan Jordaan - 2013-07-08 10:51

      Nope, he knows Zuma will sell him out, and that is why he won't even bother to apply.

  • Kgotso Mgd Selome - 2013-07-06 19:20

    its clear countries that declined snowden asylum are members of NATO.

  • Derrick Chong - 2013-07-07 00:38

    That's the price of wanting to be famous. Happy now ?

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