The US is putting pressure on Latin America to deny asylum to whistleblower Edward Snowden. The fugitive is holed up in the transit area of the Moscow International Airport waiting to see where his new home will be.
The former NSA contractor is wanted back in the US to face espionage charges stemming from his sharing classified information with the media back in June.
Three leftists governments — Ecuador, Venezuela, and Bolivia — have stepped up at one point or another to offer safe conduct to Snowden. Ecuador was almost a sure bet for the disgraced analyst, but they seemed to back track when they stated that a document that had been issued for his safe passage was invalid.
In a clear message that the Obama administration is doing everything in its power to get Snowden, Vice President Joe Biden called Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa personally to urge him not to take the fugitive.
The US is also pressuring other Latin American countries in their bid to keep Snowden on the run. State Department officials are said to be talking to Venezuela and insisting that if they house the whistleblower, the exchange of ambassadors might be in jeopardy.
All across the region, government officials are making it clear that if Snowden shows up in their country unannounced it could have lasting consequences.
“There is not a country in the hemisphere whose government does not understand our position at this point,” a senior State Department official said recently, adding that helping Mr. Snowden “would put relations in a very bad place for a long time to come.”
However, the US influence in the region is not as strong as most think. With Ecuador, Venezuela, and Bolivia bent on contradicting the Americans at every turn, there is not much the Obama administration can do. Latin America is an increasingly independent region.
Correa stated that Biden was cordial and did not make threats but requested that Ecuador not grant asylum to Snowden.
Do you think the US should be pressuring Latin America not to grant Snowden asylum?