Nicolás Maduro, socialist president of Venezuela, has extended an offer of full asylum to whistleblower Edward Snowden, who has been on the run since unveiling details of the US National Security Agency’s far-reaching surveillance programmes to newspapers including the Guardian.
Maduro made the announcement during a televised parade marking the date of Venezuela’s independence from Spain. He said: “I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young American, Edward Snowden, so that in the fatherland of Bolívar and Chávez, he can come and live away from the imperial North American persecution.”
Snowden is collaborating with Wikileaks to find a suitable place of asylum. He is currently staying in Russia, though the country’s government said on Thursday he has not applied for asylum there. A bid for Icelandic citizenship, backed by the island state’s Pirate Party, was pushed off its parliament’s agenda earlier this week. Nicaragua’s president, Daniel Ortega, has been favourable to asylum for Snowden – but only “if circumstances permit”.
Nicaragua and Venezuela are both part of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), an international organisation which brings together left-leaning Latin American and Caribbean states. Its eight members include Cuba, which said Wednesday that it is following events “with serious preoccupation”, and Ecuador, who granted diplomatic asylum in their British embassy to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange last year. Many have speculated that Snowden will wind up in an ALBA member country.
Snowden has yet to comment on the Venezuelan offer.