Bolivia's president has said he would grant asylum to former US intelligence agency contractor Edward Snowden. The leaders of Nicaragua and Venezuela had said on Friday they would be willing to grant him asylum as well.
After apparently languishing for almost two weeks in the transit area of Moscow's main international airport, Snowden now has considerably more options, thanks to Bolivia's Evo Morales, Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro and Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega.
Bolivia has "no fear" of the US and its European allies, Morales said Saturday, referring to an incident earlier this week when his own plane was denied airspace by multiple countries and forced to land in Austria, apparently on suspicions that the president himself was harboring Snowden. Morales continued that Bolivia would "give asylum to the American if he asks."
The whistle-blower has applied to at least 27 countries while he waits in apparent limbo in a Moscow airport, though the anti-government secrecy organization WikiLeaks, which has worked to broker Snowden's potential asylum, would not reveal the names of six of them. The 21 named countries are Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Switzerland and Venezuela.
Several European nations have rejected his requests, as well as Brazil and India. It had been thought Ecuador was Snowden's best hope as he arrived at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport after leaving Hong Kong, but his application is still to be considered.
'Right to asylum'
Speaking on Friday, Nicaragua's leftist Ortega confirmed that his country had received an asylum application at its embassy in Moscow, and said his government would be willing to grant asylum to Snowden under the right circumstances.
"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 in Nicaragua," President Ortega told a public event.
It was a pledge repeated by Venezuela's president, Nicolas Maduro.
"As head of state, the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young American Edward Snowden so that he can live [without] ... persecution from the empire," Maduro said, referring to the United States.
mkg/rc (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)