Venezuela Is Now Snowden’s Best Hope—and Maybe His Last

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
July 2 2013 1:55 PM

Venezuela Is Now Snowden’s Best Hope—and Maybe His Last

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Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) and his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro shake hands during a signing ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow, on July 2, 2013. Fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden was denied asylum by a host of countries today after applying for a safe haven in 21 nations spanning the globe in hopes of winning protection from American justice. Snowden found particular support in Maduro. But Maduro refused to entertain speculation he might take Snowden on a plane with him from Moscow—a possibility raised both by Russian media and political observers of the explosive case.

Photo by MAXIM SHEMETOV/AFP/Getty Images

The latest front-runner in the Edward Snowden asylum sweepstakes appears to be Venezuela. Initially, Ecuador seemed to be the likeliest destination for the NSA leaker, but Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has cooled his rhetoric after speaking with Vice President Joe Biden on the matter. Snowden has also ruled out Russia, where is currently stranded: though he briefly flirted with a request for Russian asylum yesterday, Snowden has since withdrawn his application. That leaves Venezuela—whose president, Nicolas Maduro, is conveniently in town for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The New York Times explains:

President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, visiting Russia, said that while he had not yet received an application from Mr. Snowden and would not use his plane to ferry Mr. Snowden home with him, he held out the possibility that Venezuela might ultimately agree to shelter Mr. Snowden.
Speaking to legislators and reporters at the Russian Parliament, Mr. Maduro said that Mr. Snowden deserved protection under international law.
“He did not kill anyone and he did not plant a bomb,” Mr. Maduro said, according to Russian news services. “He only said a big truth to prevent wars.”
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According to WikiLeaks, which has taken on Snowden's cause with gusto, Snowden has forwarded asylum requests to 19 other nations, a list ranging from reliable U.S. critics like Cuba and China to the friendlier nations of France and Germany. Many countries have denied his requests on procedural or political grounds; some haven’t commented at all.

If all else fails for Snowden, he may also have a backer in Bolivia—albeit a somewhat indifferent one. When asked if he would shelter the leaker, President Evo Morales reportedly said, “Why not?”

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