Latin leaders offer asylum to Snowden
BOLIVIA last night became the third Latin American country in 24 hours to offer asylum to Edward Snowden, the fugitive US whistleblower.
The leaders of Venezuela and Nicaragua have also indicated they are willing to offer asylum.
The former CIA and National Security Agency (NSA) computer technician, has been stranded in Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport since June 23, after flying in from Hong Kong and having his passport revoked by US authorities.
Bolivia's president, Evo Morales, declared yesterday that his country had "no fear" of the US and its European allies as it offered asylum. Mr Evo Morales's offer comes only days after he was held in Austria for 13 hours after his plane, carrying him from Moscow, was rumoured to have Mr Snowden on board.
He reacted by threatening to shut down the US embassy in retaliation.
Mr Snowden has sought asylum in more than 20 countries in an attempt to evade the US justice system after exposing a vast US surveillance programme, but has been largely rebuffed.
WikiLeaks, the whistle-blowing website, said he had applied to six more countries on Friday.
Nicolas Maduro, the Venezuelan president, said on Friday: "In the name of America's dignity, I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to Edward Snowden. He is a young man who has told the truth, in the spirit of rebellion, about the United States spying on the whole world."
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He said that Mr Snowden had exposed the United States "empire". Earlier, Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua's president, said that he would also gladly provide asylum "if circumstances permit".
Both Russia's foreign ministry and President Vladimir Putin's spokesman declined to comment on the Venezuela offer. But Alexei Pushkov, head of the international affairs committee of Russia's lower house, said it would be Mr Snowden's best option. "That country is in a sharp conflict with the US," he said.
It was not clear if Mr Snowden would accept the offers.