Snowden offered asylum by Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua; Maduro says US the real criminals

WL Central wrote on July 7:

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has now been offered asylum in three American countries: Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. He has applied for asylum in six additional countries, according to WikiLeaks. And his chances for reaching a safe haven are growing further because of US interference in the process, according to Michael Bochenek, director of law and policy at Amnesty International.

"Interfering with the right to seek asylum is a serious problem in international law," Bochenek told The Guardian.

"It is further evidence that he has a well-founded fear of persecution. This will be relevant to any state when considering an application. International law says that somebody who fears persecution should not be returned to that country."

Meanwhile, Spain provided the first formal acknowledgement that the diversion of the air force jet of Bolivian president Evo Morales was linked to the US hunt for Snowden. Spanish foreign minister José Manuel Garcia-Margallo: "They told us that the information was clear, that he was inside."

Garcia-Margallo however did not reveal who "they" were or if he'd been contacted by the US. A Spanish diplomat vehicle did however turn up at the Vienna airport the night Morales arrived.

Ecuadorean foreign minister Ricardo Patino said the Spanish ambassador, who arrived in the vehicle, told Morales that his country would allow the presidential jet into Spanish airspace if it could be inspected. Morales rejected the offer.

Bochenek said further that the US hunt was turning the Snowden story into a global saga.

In PR terms, opinion here and elsewhere in Latin America has shifted precisely because of the appearance of interference with other governments' decision-making processes.

Bochenek further clarified that Snowden could be granted asylum without setting foot in the country granting him asylum -- that's a convention that can be ignored.

"It's true that a lot of states have that as a rule in their own domestic requirements, but it is not required by international law."

And placing Snowden on an Interpol "red flag" list is an advisory only.

A possible route for Snowden from Moscow to Venezuela would be through Havana, and although the Cubans have not yet formally declared they would grant him transit, they have expressed sympathy for his situation and accused the US of trampling on the sovereignty of other nations.

Venezuela Analysis wrote on July 5:

“As head of state and of government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the US youth Edward Snowden,” President Nicolás Maduro announced today at Caracas’ military academy at the start of a parade for Venezuela’s Day of Independence.

“To be independent, we must feel it,” he said. “We must exercise our independence and sovereignty. Our discourses are meaningless if they aren’t exercised with force at the national level.

"I announce to the friendly governments of the world that we have decided to offer this statute of international humanitarian law to protect the young Snowden from the persecution that has been unleashed from the most powerful empire in the world,the United States."

“Let’s ask ourselves: who violated international law?” he continued. “A young man who decided, in an act of rebellion, to tell the truth of the espionage of the United States against the world? Or the government of the United States, the power of the imperialist elites, who spied on it?”

A former employee of the U.S.’ National Security Agency (NSA), Snowden entered the world stage last month after leaking various top-secret documents to British newspaper The Guardian, revealing details of mass surveillance programs carried out by the US government. Snowden fled to Hong Kong, and later to Russia, where he is suspected to still be in the transit area of Moscow’s International Airport.

Upon leaving the airport following a forum in Moscow, Bolivian President Evo Morales’ plane was prevented from entering the airspace of France, Spain, Italy, and Portugal due to suspicions that Snowden was on board. After landing in Austria for refueling, the plane was searched by authorities, who confirmed that the accusations were false.

At an emergency meeting held yesterday in Bolivia, members of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) issued a joint statement calling for an explanation from the European countries “to restore trusting relationships and move forward on any other issue”.

Venezuela had been speculated as a possible destination for Snowden after Maduro commented that the whistleblower “deserved humanitarian protection” earlier last week.