July 06, 2013, 1:36 AM — Venezuela's president Nicolas Maduro has offered to give asylum to Edward Snowden, the former contractor of the National Security Agency who leaked documents about the agency's surveillance programs.
Maduro said in a televised speech on Friday that his country would give "humanitarian asylum."
Neighboring Nicaragua has also said it is considering offering Snowden asylum if circumstances permit, according to reports.
But there are questions as to how he will get to Venezuela. Earlier this week, a plane carrying Evo Morales, president of Bolivia, was denied permission to enter airspace over some European countries as it was returning to Bolivia from Moscow. The countries had apparently been informed that Snowden was on board and their refusal to handle the aircraft sparked protests in Bolivia and the strong complaints from the Bolivian government.
Whistle-blower site WikiLeaks, which has handled Snowden's other asylum requests, said on Friday that asylum requests have been sent to six other countries, but their names were being withheld "due to attempted U.S. interference."
Earlier in the week it said that applications for asylum or asylum assistance were submitted on behalf of Snowden to about 20 countries including Venezuela and Nicaragua through an official at the Russian consulate at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow. Snowden is thought to be in the transit facility of the airport, unable to enter Russia after the U.S. revoked his passport.
The American government has filed charges against Snowden in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia for theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person.
A bill introduced Thursday by members of the Icelandic Parliament seeks to grant Icelandic citizenship to Snowden, but it won't be discussed until September after the house refused to take it up on the last day of the summer session of the Parliament.
"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," wrote Birgitta Jónsdóttir, member of the Icelandic Parliament for the Pirate Party, in a blog post on Friday.