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Venezuela offers asylum to Snowden
The Venezuela President, Nicolas Maduro, has pledged to grant asylum to Edward Snowden, former Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, employee that leaked top-secret documents about sweeping U.S. surveillance programme.
France and Italy, among other countries had rejected asylum requests from Snowden asking him find another country to seek refuge.
“Like many countries France has received, via its ambassador in Moscow, an asylum request from Edward Snowden. For legal reasons and given the applicant’s situation, it will not be processed,” Interior Minister Manuel Valls said in a statement.
Valls said earlier on Thursday that France’s relations with the United States would not allow it to harbor Snowden.
Also, Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino said any asylum request would have to be presented in person at the border or in Italian territory which Snowden had not done.
As a key provision in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as guaranteed in the UN Refugee Convention and its Protocol, NicolasMaduro of Venezuela in his speech marking the anniversary of Venezuela’s independence on Friday approved Snowden’s request on humanitarian asylum.
“As head of state, the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young American Edward Snowden so that he can live (without) … persecution from the empire,” Maduro said, referring to the United States.
It was not immediately clear if there were any conditions to Venezuela’s offer.
Snowden’s bid for Icelandic citizenship hit a deadlock earlier on Friday when the country’s parliament voted not to debate it before the summer recess.
In Nicaragua, President Daniel Ortega said he was willing to approve his request “if circumstances allow it.” Ortega didn’t say what the right circumstances would be when he spoke during a speech in Managua.
He said the Nicaraguan embassy in Moscow received Snowden’srequest for asylum and that it is studying the request.
“We have the sovereign right to help a person who felt remorse after finding out how the United States was using technology to spy on the whole world, and especially its European allies,” Ortega said.
The offers came after the USA ordered European countries to close their airspace to Bolivian President Morales’ plane, forcing it to land in Austria where it was reportedly searched.
Spain on Friday said it had been warned along with other European countries that Snowden, a former U.S. intelligence worker, was aboard the Bolivian presidential plane, an acknowledgement that the manhunt for the escapee leaker had something to do with the plane’s unexpected diversion to Austria.
President Barack Obama has publicly displayed a relaxed attitude toward Snowden’s movements, saying last month that he wouldn’t be “scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker.”