CARACAS, (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said today he had decided to offer asylum to former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who has petitioned several countries to avoid capture by Washington.
“In the name of America’s dignity … I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to Edward Snowden,” Maduro told a televised military parade marking Venezuela’s independence day.
The 30-year-old former National Security Agency contractor is believed to be holed up in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo international airport.
WikiLeaks said today that Snowden had applied to six more nations for asylum, bringing to about 20 the number of countries he has asked for protection from U.S. espionage charges.
Maduro said Venezuela was ready to offer him sanctuary, and that the details Snowden had revealed of a U.S. spy program had exposed the nefarious schemes of the U.S. “empire.”
“He has told the truth, in the spirit of rebellion, about the U.S. spying on the whole world,” Maduro said.
“Who is the guilty one? A young man … who denounces war plans, or the U.S. government which launches bombs and arms the terrorist Syrian opposition against the people and legitimate President Bashar al-Assad?”
“Who is the terrorist? Who is the global delinquent?”
Russia has shown signs of growing impatience over Snowden’s stay in Moscow. Its deputy foreign minister said on Thursday that 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.