Edward Snowden has asylum offers from a handful of countries in Latin America.
The National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden is rumored to be hunkering down in a Russian airport as he awaits passage to any country that will have him. And, it’s looking like his wait might soon be coming to an end.
Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Venezuela have all offered Snowden asylum, according to the Guardian.
The presidents of the three countries announced they were offering Snowden asylum after an airplane carrying the Bolivian president from Russia back to Bolivia was diverted and grounded in Austria when a number of European countries refused to allow it airspace. The plane was redirected because officials suspected Snowden was aboard.
The incident caused an uproar among Latin American countries, which came together to denounce the diversion.
“It is an open provocation to the continent, not only to the president; they use the agent of North American imperialism to scare us and intimidate us,” Bolivian President Evo Morales said after the incident, according to the Guardian.
Snowden has apparently sent out dozens of asylum requests and Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Venezuela are the first countries to respond positively. Ecuador, which granted Wikileaks founder Julian Assange asylum, is still deciding whether to offer Snowden refuge, according to the Guardian.
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Snowden is wanted by the U.S. government for leaking top-secret documents to the media over the NSA’s surveillance practices. This leak has led to the public discovering that the government has been working to spy on people via metadata from Internet companies and cellular records in two programs — the 2015 Program and PRISM. The NSA and the Obama administration have said the goals of the surveillance programs were to track down foreign terrorists and terrorist threats.
Since the leak, the U.S. government has revoked Snowden’s passport and is working to extradite him back to the U.S. He has been charged with unauthorized disclosure of national defense information, unauthorized disclosure of classified communication intelligence, and the theft of government property, according to the Guardian. Each charge has a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
In addition to offering Snowden asylum, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Venezuela have also rejected U.S. extradition requests, according to the Guardian.