LATIN AMERICA

Venezuela keeps world guessing about Snowden’s asylum request

Caracas denies receiving asylum request despite president’s confirmation

Protestors hold a demonstration outside the American embassy in La Paz.
Protestors hold a demonstration outside the American embassy in La Paz.DAVID MERCADO (Reuters)

Confusion reigned on Wednesday over Edward Snowden’s requests for asylum in several Latin American nations after Venezuela — said to be his most likely destination — clarified that the wanted former National Security Agency contractor had not filed any petition with the Caracas government as had been first reported.

Venezuelan officials appeared to have tightened their initial prerequisites of granting carte blanche asylum to the 30-year-old Snowden by saying that he must be physically inside the country before any such petition can be considered.

Glenn Greenwald, the US journalist who first published in The Guardian the secret US intelligence documents revealing the NSA’s global spying network that Snowden leaked, said he would most likely seek asylum in Venezuela to avoid prosecution in the United States. The US Justice Department has charged him with three felony charges of leaking classified information.

Snowden has been holed up in the transit area of the Moscow airport since he arrived there from Hong Kong on June 23.

The whistleblower organization WikiLeaks, which is reportedly helping Snowden in his search for refuge, denied a senior Russian lawmaker’s post on Twitter saying he had decided to go to Venezuela. The post was later removed. On Monday, President Nicolás Maduro confirmed that the Venezuelan consulate in Moscow had received an application for asylum.

But the following day, Foreign Minister Elías Jaua stated that the government had received no such petition. “Up until now he has not authenticated his intention to seek asylum in Venezuela. First, we have to wait for his own actions and later contact the government of the Russian Federation to see if this is possible,” Jaua said.

On its own Twitter feed, WikiLeaks said the nations that have so far made an offer to Snowden — Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua — “will make the announcement if and when the appropriate time comes.” Later the organization posted: “Tomorrow [Wednesday] the first phase of Edward Snowden’s ‘Flight of Liberty’ campaign will be launched. Follow for further details.” No other announcement had been made by press time.

Up until now he has not authenticated his intention to seek asylum in Venezuela"

Snowden reportedly has no travel papers after his US passport was revoked soon after he arrived in Moscow. But a US diplomat note published in The Guardian over the weekend advised that Snowden may have gotten hold of another US passport. The US State Department on Tuesday had no information on that report or if Snowden obtained a passport from a third country. The Russia Today news website said Wednesday that Snowden was issued a passport by the World Service Authority (WSA), a Washington-based NGO that advocates global citizenship for the world’s entire population. The passport is officially recognized by Ecuador, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Mauritania, Togo and Zambia, according to the WSA website.

On Tuesday, the United States reiterated that it was in touch with many governments to ensure that Snowden does not use their airspace or transit routes to get to his final destination. “He should not be permitted to engage in further international travel beyond the travel necessary to return to the United States,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

Meanwhile, the fallout from last week’s episode involving the diverting of Bolivian President Evo Morales’ presidential plane continued. Just hours before the permanent council of the Organization of American States (OAS) passed a resolution demanding Spain, Italy, France and Portugal apologize to Morales for the incident, protestors burned an effigy of US President Barack Obama outside the American Embassy in La Paz.

Irate leaders demand US answers

Outrage broke out across Latin America on Tuesday after a leading Brazilian newspaper published documents leaked by a wanted former US National Security Agency contractor that show the United States had extended its global spying ring across the region.

Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina and Mexico were named as the latest targets of the NSA's spying programs that monitored internet traffic and telephone calls, the Rio de Janeiro daily O Globo reported. Over the weekend, the leading Brazilian daily, which is working in conjunction with The Guardian on the leaked documents provided by Edward Snowden — wanted by the United States on espionage-related charges — reported that millions of Brazilians were spied upon with the help of the country's telecommunications companies. The Brazilian government has opened an official inquiry into the allegations.

“A shiver ran down my back when I learned that they are spying on all of us,” said Argentinean President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in a speech on Tuesday.

In a statement, Colombia’s Foreign Ministry said it had demanded explanations from Washington while at the same time “filed its concern” with the US Embassy in Bogotá.

The Mercosur bloc of nations, which is scheduled to meet on Friday, said it would issue a resolution condemning the United States.

“We are against these kinds of espionage activities,” said Peruvian President Ollanta Humala. “It would be good of the Peruvian Congress to look with concern at privacy issues related to personal information,” he said.

According to O Globo, the monitoring of citizens' phone calls increased when certain countries were going through difficult and questionable periods. For example, the tapping of communications heightened in Venezuela during the final months of President Hugo Chávez's life. Chávez died of cancer on March 5.

Using a system called Prism, the NSA, in conjunction with the CIA, also monitored phone calls to keep tabs on drug traffickers and military purchases by governments, the newspaper said.

On Monday and Tuesday, the United States said it was maintaining diplomatic conversations with Brazil and other nations in the region in a bid to ensure that these revelations did not affect bilateral relations.

A State Department spokeswoman said Washington would not make public the ongoing conversations “through normal diplomatic channels.”

“As has been our policy, we’re not going to comment publicly on every specific alleged intelligence activity,” said spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Tuesday. “As a matter of policy, we have been clear that the United States does gather foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations.”

Outrage broke out across Latin America on Tuesday after a leading Brazilian newspaper published documents leaked by a wanted former US National Security Agency contractor that show the United States had extended its global spying ring across the region.

Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina and Mexico were named as the latest targets of the NSA's spying programs that monitored internet traffic and telephone calls, the Rio de Janeiro daily O Globo reported. Over the weekend, the leading Brazilian daily, which is working in conjunction with The Guardian on the leaked documents provided by Edward Snowden — wanted by the United States on espionage-related charges — reported that millions of Brazilians were spied upon with the help of the country's telecommunications companies. The Brazilian government has opened an official inquiry into the allegations.

“A shiver ran down my back when I learned that they are spying on all of us,” said Argentinean President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in a speech on Tuesday.

In a statement, Colombia’s Foreign Ministry said it had demanded explanations from Washington while at the same time “filed its concern” with the US Embassy in Bogotá.

The Mercosur bloc of nations, which is scheduled to meet on Friday, said it would issue a resolution condemning the United States.

“We are against these kinds of espionage activities,” said Peruvian President Ollanta Humala. “It would be good of the Peruvian Congress to look with concern at privacy issues related to personal information,” he said.

According to O Globo, the monitoring of citizens' phone calls increased when certain countries were going through difficult and questionable periods. For example, the tapping of communications heightened in Venezuela during the final months of President Hugo Chávez's life. Chávez died of cancer on March 5.

Using a system called Prism, the NSA, in conjunction with the CIA, also monitored phone calls to keep tabs on drug traffickers and military purchases by governments, the newspaper said.

On Monday and Tuesday, the United States said it was maintaining diplomatic conversations with Brazil and other nations in the region in a bid to ensure that these revelations did not affect bilateral relations.

A State Department spokeswoman said Washington would not make public the ongoing conversations “through normal diplomatic channels.”

“As has been our policy, we’re not going to comment publicly on every specific alleged intelligence activity,” said spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Tuesday. “As a matter of policy, we have been clear that the United States does gather foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations.”

Rules
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS