Edward Snowden’s Asylum Search May End In Venezuela
The question of just where NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is going to wind up may be a bit closer to getting an answer. Those in contact with Snowden have suggested that Venezuela stands a good chance of being where he ends up.
Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua have all offered Snowden asylum, though he reportedly applied in over 20 countries. Guardian journalist Greg Greenwald, who originally published the documents that Snowden leaked concerning the NSA’s domestic surveillance program, told Reuters today that Snowden would likely be choosing to go to Venezuela.
Greenwald later backtracked from those comments a bit, saying on Twitter and in an interview with the Guardian that he did not mean that Venezuela is where Snowden would go, only that it was likely the best option of the three.
Snowden is currently in the transit zone of the Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow. Legally speaking, that part of the airport is a bit of a limbo, as it is between the departure gate and formal entry into Russia. That means that, technically speaking, it isn’t Russian soil. While the legal protection of a transit zone is limited, the Russian authorities appear not to be expending much effort to extract Snowden, whose exact location remains unknown.
Snowden arrived in Moscow last month after leaving Hong Kong, where he initially fled just before his leaks went public. While Russia has declined to extradite him to the United States, President Vladimir Putin has expressed his desire that Snowden find somewhere else to settle. Snowden has been conducting his search for asylum from the airport.
Whichever of the three countries Snowden chooses, he is likely to have some difficulties getting there. American authorities have revoked his passport. Moreover, it is entirely likely that the U.S. will pressure its allies between Moscow and Latin America – of which there are, to put it mildly, quite a few – to block any plane Snowden is believed to be on from using their airspace.
That being the case, you can bet that, unless something goes wrong, Snowden’s choice won’t be made public until he is safely on the ground in whichever country he chooses.