The quest by NSA leaker Edward Snowden for a safe haven has taken a turn toward Latin America, with offers for asylum coming from the leftist presidents of Nicaragua and Venezuela.
But there were no immediate signs that efforts were underway to bring him to either nation after Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua made their offers during separate speeches in their home countries Friday.
The offers came one day after leftist South American leaders gathered to denounce the rerouting of Bolivian President Evo Morales’ plane over Europe amid reports that the fugitive American was aboard.
Snowden, who is being sought by the United States, has asked for asylum in more than 20 countries, including Nicaragua and Venezuela. Many another nations have turned him down.
“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.
Maduro said several other Latin American governments have also expressed their intention of taking a similar stance by offering asylum for the cause of “dignity.”
Chavez, who hand-picked Maduro as his successor, 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 sulfur 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 asylum 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.