The Wall Street Journal this evening provides additional insight and reaction to Venezuelan president Maduro’s offer to give asylum to Edward Snowden:
In public comments, Venezuela’s Mr. Maduro has spoken of Mr. Snowden as a valiant rebel who deserves to be “protected by humanity” and has praised the former security analyst for unmasking U.S. espionage efforts at home and abroad.
Mr. Maduro said that he was offering refuge to Mr. Snowden to protect him “from the persecution that has been unleashed on him from the most powerful empire in the world.” He added that all Mr. Snowden had done “was tell the truth” and said that the U.S. government was the guilty party for spying on countries around the world.
“Who’s the violator here? A young guy that files a complaint about war plans or the U.S. government, which drops bombs and arms the terrorist opposition of Syria against the people and legitimate President Bashar al-Assad?” Mr. Maduro asked.
However, the Journal adds, the leader of Venezuela’s political opposition, Henrique Capriles, is accusing Maduro of offering asylum to Snowden to divert attention away from the severe economic problems that are plaguing the country:
“Asylum doesn’t resolve the economic disaster, the record-breaking inflation, another looming [currency] devaluation, rising crime, [and consumer goods] shortages,” Mr. Capriles said in a post on Twitter, which — according to the Journal — was confirmed by an aide. “This is going to have a cost,” said Javier Corrales, a political-science professor at Amherst College in Massachusetts, the Journal says. And “[Corrales] added that the offer could backfire as it draws more international scrutiny over Venezuela’s track record on freedom of the press and other human rights issues. Mr. Corrales cited as an example Ecuador, which received more attention over its restrictive media laws and silencing of critics after giving sanctuary to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.”
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ABC News outlines some of the “technical” and logistical hurdles that Snowden still can face, even if granted political asylum by such “friendly” countries as Venezuela or Nicaragua:
But how could Snowden get [to] Latin America from Moscow, where he traveled after originally hiding out in Hong Kong?
The only “safe” commercial flight across the Atlantic — one that would avoid U.S. extradition treaties — is to Cuba. Cuba has an extradition treaty from 1904, but the Castro government could chose to ignore it.
From Havana, Snowden could connect to Caracas, Venezuela, or Managua, Nicaragua.
If he could get a valid travel document from either country in time, Snowden could take Saturday’s 2:05 p.m. flight to Cuba. There are two connecting flights to Caracas on Sunday.
Getting to Managua commercially is more difficult. There’s only one non-stop flight from Cuba and it leaves Saturday morning, so Snowden would have to cool his heels in Cuba for an entire week if he left Moscow on the next flight.
The other question is: Will Cuba let Snowden transit there? U.S. officials have told ABC News they believe the Cubans want nothing to do with Snowden. As evidence, they pointed to the fact that Snowden failed to board previous flights to Cuba, when safe haven in Ecuador appeared to be an option.
There is also the private-flight option. Reports last week quoted the cost of a private plane to Ecuador to be more than $200,000 on one of the few private jets that could make the trip without refueling. Similar flights to Venezuela or Nicaragua would presumably be only a bit less.
But even if he does get on either of those flights, there is also the question of air space — especially after the incident involving the Bolivian president’s plane. Would European countries or the United States deny a plane carrying Snowden to fly over their territory or force it down?
President Obama last week dismissed suggestions the U.S. was prepared to force down a commercial flight carrying Snowden, saying, “No, I am not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29 year-old hacker.”
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It is amazing how frequent and loudly-enough repeated reproaches for covering the Edward Snowden escapades instead of or in addition to the NSA surveillance issue — which anyone is most welcome to discuss and debate at length — could almost give hesitation to those who like to express their opinions freely and whether popular or not.
I say almost, because it took me a whole two to three seconds to decide that I would post the following, yes, about Edward Snowden.
The BBC reports that both Nicaragua and Venezuela appear to be willing to offer political asylum to Mr. Snowden.
The president of that democratic country of Venezuela in a stirring, patriotic speech on the occasion of Venezuela’s Independence Day said:
“As head of state and government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young US citizen Edward Snowden so he can come to the fatherland of Bolivar and Chavez to live away from the imperial North American persecution.”
Agence France Presse has quoted Daniel Ortega, of Sandinista fame, as saying:
“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 here in Nicaragua.”
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