VOA News – July 07, 2013
An influential Russian parliament member who often speaks for the Kremlin has encouraged former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden to accept Venezuela’s offer of asylum.
Alexei Pushkov, who heads the international affairs committee in Russia’s parliament, has posted multiple messages on Twitter about the case, including one Sunday saying, “Venezuela is waiting for an answer from Snowden. This, perhaps, is his last chance to receive political asylum.”
Snowden is believed to have been stuck in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport since arriving on a flight from Hong Kong two weeks ago, unable to travel further because the United States annulled his passport.
On Saturday, Bolivian President Evo Morales offered asylum to Snowden, becoming the third leftist Latin American leader to do so, following Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega a day earlier.
It is not clear how the 30-year-old Snowden, who leaked secret details of surveillance programs conducted by the clandestine U.S. National Security Agency, would get to any of the Latin American nations.
American authorities want him extradited to the U.S. to stand trial on espionage charges, but Russian President Vladimir Putin has refused, even as he says he wants Snowden to leave for another country.
Snowden has sought asylum in more than 20 countries. But most of them have either turned him down or said he must be in their countries or one of their embassies before they would consider his asylum bid.
The NSA says the information it has collected helped foil terrorist attacks. Snowden has said Americans should know their government has them under surveillance.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.