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Friday, July 05, 2013

At Long Last, Venezuela Grants "Humanitarian" Asylum To NSA's Edward Snowden.

Snowden Is Offered Asylum by Venezuela

Maduro Says Country Would Provide 'Humanitarian Asylum' to NSA Leaker

Venezuela is offering "humanitarian asylum" to U.S. National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, President Nicolás Maduro said Friday, suggesting his country could provide the leaker a way out of his apparent limbo in a Moscow airport but providing no details as to how it could happen.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega also said his country, as a country open to humanitarian asylum,
would be open to giving asylum to Mr. Snowden.
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It wasn't clear how Mr. Snowden could make it to either country, however. A recent analysis of his possible routes to Ecuador, a country that last week extended an asylum offer to him providing he could get to Ecuadorean territory, showed that all of his connecting flight routes to the country ran through countries that have extradition treaties with the U.S.

"Various Latin American governments have expressed their desire to take a position like that which I am about to express in this moment: As head of state of the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the American Edward Snowden," Mr.
Maduro said during a ceremony celebrating Venezuela's independence day. His comments come a day after the leftist leader, the heir of late socialist firebrand Hugo Chávez, said he intended to reject a U.S. extradition request for Mr. Snowden, which Venezuela's Foreign Ministry received earlier this week.

Analysts were largely skeptical of Mr. Ortega's offer, made in a speech before thousands of his supporters. "It is an ambiguous statement, that is consistent with his rhetoric of provoking the U.S. and in practice doing everything to maintain good relations," said Carlos Fernando Chamorro, a journalist and political analyst. Mr. Chamorro also said it was unlikely that Mr. Ortega would try to defy the U.S. at a moment when it is trying to win Washington's confidence in a project to build an interoceanic canal through Nicaragua with the help of a Chinese businessman.

A former top Nicaraguan official who knows Mr. Ortega well agreed with Mr. Chamorro's assessment. "It's his way of telling the Americans, I was asked to do this, but I'm not going to do it," the former official said. "I know him, it is a way that he can show off his revolutionary credentials, but he won't do anything in the end."

Mr. Snowden is wanted by the U.S. after admitting to leaking details of the government's secret surveillance program. Russian officials have said he is currently in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport.

In public comments, Venezuela's Mr. Maduro has spoken of Mr. Snowden as a valiant rebel who deserves to be "protected by humanity" and has praised the former security analyst for unmasking U.S. espionage efforts at home and abroad.

Editor's comment: Update: Nicaragua also extends asylum. Read more here.

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