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Edward Snowden, NSA Leaker, Offered Asylum By Venezuela

Submitted by on July 6, 2013 – 7:30 amOne Comment

Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked classified information about domestic spying programs, has finally been offered asylum, by the nation of Venezuela. The news was reported by state-run media, with no other details, and was later stated by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Snowden had asylum requests rejected officially by France and Italy. The Icelandic parliament declined to take up the issue. And Russian President Vladmir Putin has stated that he has no intention of returning Snowden to the US. But Putin did say that Snowden must stop leaking information before Russia will offer asylum, even admitting how odd it was for the leader of a nation often at odds with the US to oppose the US’s most prominent current critic.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega also said he supported his nation offering asylum to Snowden, “if the circumstances permit.”

Several other Latin American nations support Snowden’s plight, if not offering outright asylum. Bolivian President Evo Morales has accused the US of forcing his airplane to land in Austria (after leaving Moscow) due to rumors that Snowden was aboard (though evidence has contested some of Bolivia’s claims). The leaders of Ecuador and Nicaragua joined the criticisms over the Bolivian situation.

Maduro succeeded Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, a harsh critic of the US, after Chavez’s death. Maduro used the opportunity of announcing asylum for Snowden to criticize US support of Syrian opposition, saying Bashar al-Assad is the “legitimate president.”

Edward Snowden is believed to be in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport. Before going public with his information, Snowden fled to Hong Kong, which has an extradition treaty with the US.

This wouldn’t be the first time a US leaker found sanctuary in Latin America. In the 1980′s until his death in 2008, Phillip Agee, a former CIA agent who wrote several critical memoirs about the agency, lived in Grenada, Nicaragua, and finally Cuba.

[via CNN; image by The Guardian/AP]

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