CARACAS: Venezuelan has decided to offer humanitarian asylum to former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden‚ who has petitioned several countries to avoid capture by Washington.
“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 (without)… persecution from the [American] empire,” Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Friday.
The former National Security Agency contractor is believed to be holed up in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport since June 23, when he traveled from Hong Kong to avoid extradition to the US.
Deputy foreign minister of Russia said Snowden has not sought asylum and he has to choose a place to go.
Moscow has made it clear that the longer Snowden stays‚ more risk of the diplomatic standoff over his fate will be causing damage to relations with Washington.
Minutes before Maduro’s offer, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega also said his country would grant Snowden political asylum “if circumstances permit” it.
Snowden has already sought asylum in 20 countries, namely China, India, Cuba, Brazil, Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Finland, France, Germany and Iceland.
Washington has asked these countries not to provide asylum to Snowden.
The US has revoked Snowden’s passport, with State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki saying the whistleblower “should not be allowed to proceed in any further international travel, other than is necessary to return him to the US.”
Snowden revealed two top secret US government spying programs, under which the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have been spying on a global scale.
The NSA scandal took even broader dimensions when Snowden revealed information about US espionage activities targeting countries friendly to the US.