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Venezuela, Nicaragua offer Snowden asylum

The presidents of both Nicaragua and Venezuela have indicated their countries could offer political asylum to United States fugitive Edward Snowden.

BBC News

Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro said it would give asylum to the intelligence leaker, who is believed to be holed up in a transit area of Moscow airport.

Meanwhile, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said his country would do so “if circumstances permit”.

WikiLeaks said Snowden had applied to six additional countries on Friday.

The whistleblowing website said it would not name the countries “due to attempted US interference”.

Snowden has already asked 21 countries for asylum, most of whom have turned down his request.

But even if a country accepted the American’s application, getting there could prove difficult.

European airspace could be closed to any aircraft suspected of carrying the fugitive.

Earlier this week, several European countries reportedly refused to allow the Bolivian president’s jet to cross their airspace on its way back from Moscow — apparently because of suspicions that Snowden was on board.

Maduro made his announcement in a speech on Venezuela’s Independence Day.

“As head of state and government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young US citizen Edward Snowden so he can come to the fatherland of Bolivar and Chavez to live away from the imperial North American persecution,” Maduro said.

The US wants to prosecute Snowden over the leaking of thousands of classified intelligence documents.

Earlier Ortega said Nicaragua had received an application at its embassy in Moscow.

“We are open, respectful of the right to asylum, and it is clear that if circumstances permit it, we would receive Snowden with pleasure and give him asylum here in Nicaragua,” Agence France-Presse quoted the Nicaraguan president as saying.

Daniel Ortega was a fierce opponent of the US during his first period as Nicaragua’s president in the 1980s, after the left-wing Sandinista movement came to power.

Bolivia, which had also suggested it might offer Snowden asylum, saw its presidential plane barred from European airspace on Tuesday.

There was speculation the 30-year-old was on the plane carrying President Evo Morales back from Russia to La Paz earlier this week.

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