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Denouncing US 'Empire' Latin American Leaders Step Up to Protect Snowden

Presidents of Venezuela and Nicaragua allude to potential asylum for the stranded NSA whistleblower

- Lauren McCauley, staff writer

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced he would offer "humanitarian asylum" to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden during a speech on Friday, July 5. (Photo: Miraflores Palace/Handout via Reuters)Two South American nations, Venezuela and Nicaragua, indicated Friday that there may be some relief for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who for the past 14 days has unsuccessfully sought political asylum from a number of nations, all the while remaining trapped in the purgutory of Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport.

"As head of state of the Bolivarian republic of Venezuela, I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young Snowden [...] to protect this young man from the persecution launched by the most powerful empire in the world," Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said—alluding to the United States—during an independence day speech in Caracas on Friday.

"I announced to the friendly governments of the world that we have decided to offer this international human right to protect this young man," he continued, adding that several other Latin American governments have also expressed their intention of taking a similar stance by offering asylum for the cause of "dignity," AP reports.

The speech followed an earlier statement by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega during which he announced: "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."

"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 added.

However, it remains unclear how Snowden might reach another nation as US authorities have stripped him of his passport and a refugee pass—initially believed to have been offered to him by Ecuador—has since been declared invalid.

Both announcements came a day after South American leaders blasted the United States for their presumed roll in the forced re-routing and downing of Bolivian President Evo Morales' airplane for suspicions that Snowden was onboard.

Also Friday, WikiLeaks announced in a message posted on twitter that Snowden had applied for asylum in six additional countries though they would remain undisclosed "due to attempted US interference."

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