Three Latin American states offer Snowden asylum

Sunday 07 July 2013 09.13
Edward Snowden has been in the transit area of Moscow's Shremetyevo airport since 23 June
Edward Snowden has been in the transit area of Moscow's Shremetyevo airport since 23 June

Bolivian President Evo Morales has said he would grant asylum, if requested, to former US intelligence agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Mr Morales' offer came after two othert Latin American leaders - Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro and Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega - also said they would help the US fugitive.

Mr Snowden is believed to be holed up in the transit area of a Moscow international airport.

The US has accused him of espionage and wants his return to face charges. 

Mr Snowden disclosed a secret US global surveillance programme after leaving his job and flying to Hong Kong and then Moscow. 

Yesterday, Mr Maduro said: "In the name of America's dignity ... I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to Edward Snowden.

"He is a young man who has told the truth, in the spirit of rebellion, about the United States spying on the whole world."

It was not immediately clear how Mr Snowden would react to Mr Maduro's offer, nor reach Venezuela if he accepted.

There are no direct commercial flights between Moscow and Caracas, and the usual route involves changing planes in Havana.

It is not clear if the Cuban authorities would let him transit.

Russia has shown signs of growing impatience over Mr Snowden's stay in Moscow.

Its deputy foreign minister said on Thursday that Mr Snowden had not sought asylum in that country and needed to choose a place to go.

Moscow has made clear that the longer he stays, the greater the risk of the diplomatic standoff over his fate causing lasting damage to relations with Washington.

The White House declined to comment on Mr Maduro's offer.

Raising the possibility of at least one other option, Nicaragua said it had received an asylum request from Mr Snowden and could agree to it "if circumstances permit".

WikiLeaks said Mr Snowden had asked six more nations for asylum, bringing to about 20 the number of countries he has appealed to for protection from US espionage charges.