Bolivia's president says he is willing to grant Snowden asylum
Venezuelan state media reports Venezuela has already offered asylum
The U.S. intelligence leaker has been holed up at the Moscow airport
Venezuela says it has extended an offer of asylum to Edward Snowden, but it has not heard back from him.
A trio of left-leaning Latin American nations to varying degrees say they would welcome the U.S. intelligence leaker in their country. Venezuela and Bolivia have offered asylum to Snowden and Nicaragua is willing to consider it.
Bolivian President Evo Morales, who became part of the saga when his presidential plane was denied permission to enter the airspace of several European countries amid a rumor about Snowden, said his country is “willing to give asylum.” A day earlier, Venezuelan state media reported that President Nicolas Maduro had offered Snowden asylum.
The reports came shortly after Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said he would grant Snowden asylum in his country “if the circumstances permit.” Ortega didn’t elaborate on his announcement, made during a speech in Managua, except to say his country is “open and respectful to the right of asylum.”
“It’s clear that that if the circumstances permit it we will gladly receive Snowden and will grant him asylum here in Nicaragua,” Ortega said.
The asylum offers could provide Snowden a chance to evade U.S. authorities, though it is unclear how he would get to Venezuela or the other countries.
Snowden’s exit from Russia would provide relief to authorities there, who appeared weary of the American’s presence at the airport.
Alexei Pushkov, head of the lower Russian legislative body DUMA, recommended Snowden leave Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, where he has been holed up since June 23, when he arrived from Hong Kong.
“Sanctuary for Snowden in Venezuela would be the best solution,” Pushkov tweeted Saturday. “He can’t live in at Sheremetyevo.”
Venezuela’s foreign minister said Saturday that it has had no contact with Snowden since its asylum offer Friday, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, an Icelandic lawmaker said Snowden would not get citizenship there, as he had requested, because Iceland’s parliament refused to vote on an asylum proposal before ending its current session.
Birgitta Jonsdottir was among a handful of lawmakers who put forward a bill Thursday urging Parliament to process Snowden’s request. She said Friday that the speaker of the house refused to put the bill on the agenda and the majority in parliament refused to allow a voice vote on it.
“So it is with great grief I have to announce that Snowden will not be getting any form of shelter in Iceland because the current government doesn’t even have enough spine for the Parliament to discuss Snowden’s request,” Jonsdottir wrote on her blog.
She praised Snowden, who has acknowledged leaking classified documents about U.S. surveillance programs and faces espionage charges in the United States. Besides Iceland, he has applied for asylum in 20 other countries.
“I and many others regard him as a hero and have deep respect for him for he has taken great personal risk in order to inform the rest of us about how those in power have lost control of their powerlust and violated their own constitutions against their own citizens,” Jonsdottir wrote.
“Mr. Snowden your courage has been noted and there are millions of people from all backgrounds who honor the risks you have taken for us and we will stand tall with you.”
Bolivia’s ‘fair protest’
Several European countries refused to allow President Evo Morales’ plane through their airspace Tuesday because of suspicions Snowden was aboard. With no clear path home available, the flight crew made an emergency landing in Vienna, Austria, where authorities confirmed Snowden was not a passenger.
Bolivia’s asylum offer is a “fair protest” to the incident, which involved Portugal, Italy, France and Spain, Morales said. Spain has said it did not restrict its airspace during that flight.
He put the blame squarely on the United States for the incident.
“Message to the Americans: The empire and its servants will never be able to intimidate or scare us,” Morales told supporters at El Alto International Airport outside La Paz, where he arrived late Wednesday. “European countries need to liberate themselves from the imperialism of the Americans.”
Morales said officials should analyze whether to shut the U.S. Embassy in his country.
“Without the United States,” he said, “we are better politically and democratically.”
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa joined Morales in criticizing the United States’ role in the situation, and Venezuela’s Maduro blamed the CIA for pressuring the European governments to refuse to grant the plane passage.
CNN’s Catherine E. Shoichet, Melissa Gray and Ed Payne contributed to this report.