Venezuela emerged today as the country most likely to shelter NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden from US justice.
President Nicolás Maduro said he was “willing in principle” to grant Edward Snowden asylum, declaring: “He didn’t kill anyone or plant a bomb.”
Nicolás Maduro said that the NSA whistleblower had not made a formal application for refuge but that he deserved protection under international law.
But the Venezuelan president, who is in Russia on a state visit, batted down speculation that he could spirit the data analyst away to Venezuelan capital Caracas on his presidential jet when he leaves Russia tonight.
Edward Snowden, 30, has so far applied for asylum in 21 countries but faces a thinning list of options after Finland, India, Ecuador and Poland rejected his plea and a number of others said applications can only be made in person on their home soil.
In the most positive news yet for Edward Snowden, Nicolás Maduro said: “He did not kill anyone and he did not plant a bomb… He only said a big truth to prevent wars.”
His comments came after Edward Snowden has abandoned his bid for asylum in Russia, hours after president Vladimir Putin said he would only be welcome if he stopped leaking the secrets of “our American partners”.
WikiLeaks today revealed Edward Snowden has begged 21 countries to take him in as he fights extradition to the US where he faces charges of espionage after leaking top-secret documents on US surveillance schemes.
The list includes Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Finland, France, Spain, Germany and Ireland.
“Snowden really asked to remain in Russia,” Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said.
“Learning yesterday of Russia’s position… he abandoned his intentions and his request to get the possibility to stay in Russia.”
Earlier, Vladimir Putin made it clear Russia would only consider his request if he stops “attacking our American partners” in an unusual gesture of solidarity with the US.
“Russia never hands over anybody anywhere and has no intention to do so,” said the Kremlin leader, defying a specific U.S. request.
“If he [Edward Snowden] wants to remain here there is one condition – he should stop his work aimed at inflicting damage on our American partners no matter how strange this may sound coming from me.”