Venezuela has offered Edward Snowden asylum after he blew the whistle on an NSA domestic spying program, but the US fugitive could face a “logistical nightmare” in trying to reach the Latin American nation.
In the past few days Snowden has been given three offers of asylum, with Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua offering safe haven from US prosecution. But experts say his odds at escaping Russia for asylum in any of the leftist countries will be difficult.
Snowden has remained in the Moscow airport transit zone for 15 days after departing Hong Kong. On Sunday he spoke to the German newspaper Der Spiegel, saying that NSA spies are “in bed together with the Germans and most other Western states.”
American officials have asked Russia to hand over Snowden, but the nations have no extradition agreement and Russian President Vladimir Putin has refused to turn him over. But Putin has also suggested that Snowden must decide quickly where he will go next.
The offer from Venezuela will be difficult for Snowden, however. Flights from Moscow to Latin America are all connected through Cuba, which until recently had not commented on Snowden’s request for asylum. His flight could also be grounded by a European country — last week a flight carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales was denied airspace on suspicion that he was trying to smuggle Snowden in from Moscow.
The NSA whistleblower applied to 21 countries for asylum. The three Latin American nations have been the only ones to make an offer so far.
“We are open, respectful of the right to asylum, and it is clear that if circumstances permit it, we would receive Snowden with pleasure and give him asylum here in Nicaragua,” Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega said at a public event.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro appeared defiant toward the United States.
“He has told the truth, in the spirit of rebellion, about the US spying on the whole world,” Maduro said. “Who is the guilty one? A young man… who denounces war plans, or the US government which launches bombs and arms the terrorist Syrian opposition against the people and legitimate president, Bashar al-Assad?”
Venezuela noted that Snowden has not made a response to the offer yet.