, CARACAS, July 6 – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro offered Friday to grant asylum to US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, giving a possible escape route to the fugitive whose revelations rocked the American government and security establishment.
Moments earlier in Nicaragua, President Daniel Ortega also gave the 30 year old computer expert another glimmer of hope, saying that “if circumstances permit” his government would be willing to shelter the man who has been in limbo at Moscow’s airport since June 23.
But just how Snowden, whose passport was revoked by his country, could travel to either country to take advantage of the offers remains very much uncertain.
Snowden has been scrambling to evade espionage charges after disclosing a vast US electronic surveillance program to collect phone and Internet data.
He has applied for asylum in 27 nations, but several European countries rebuffed him earlier this week, along with India and Brazil. Leftist Latin American leaders, however, have voiced sympathy for the bespectacled fugitive.
“As head of state of the Bolivarian republic of Venezuela, I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young Snowden to protect this young man from the persecution launched by the most powerful empire in the world,” Maduro said at an independence day event.
“I announced to the friendly governments of the world that we have decided to offer this international human right to protect this young man,” said Maduro, who had previously suggested he would consider offering Snowden asylum.