Putin denies Snowden sanctuary; Ecuador too
Edward Snowden's ill advised request for asylum from Russia was turned down by Vladimir Putin because the NSA leaker wouldn't promise not to leak any more documents while on Russian soil.
And I don't know what Vice President Biden said to Ecuador's President Rafael Correa when he spoke to him last week, but it must have been pretty convincing. The disciple of Hugo Chavez has gotten cold feet and will not entertain a request for asylum from Snowden unless he is on Ecuadoran soil - a long shot given his circumstances.
Wikileaks announced a list of 19 countries that they have made requests for asylumb on behalf of Snowden:
Republic of Austria, the Plurinational State of Bolivia, the Federative Republic of Brazil, the People's Republic of China, the Republic of Cuba, the Republic of Finland, the French Republic, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Republic of India, the Italian Republic, the Republic of Ireland, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Republic of Nicaragua, the Kingdom of Norway, the Republic of Poland, the Russian Federation, the Kingdom of Spain, the Swiss Confederation and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
Forget the NATO countries. Russia is now out and one assumes that China would be negative to the idea for the same reasons as Putin. Any country that depends on good relations with the US - Brazil, India, Poland, and Switzerland - are almost certainly off the table.
That leaves countries that want to spit in the eye of the US: Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. It is almost touching, the childlike naivete of Snowden, who is upset that the US is working to prevent his ending up in a country where he would be beyond their reach. What did he expect? A red carpet and a graterful world?
The 30-year-old is in legal limbo in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, unable to fly on to a hoped-for destination in Latin America because he has no legal travel documents and no Russian visa to leave the airport.
On Monday, he broke a nine-day silence since arriving in Moscow from Hong Kong, challenging Washington by saying he was free to publish more about its programs and that he was being illegally persecuted.
That ruled out a prolonged stay in Russia, where a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin said Snowden had withdrawn his request for asylum after the Russian leader said he should give up his "anti-American activity".
But while country after country denied his asylum requests on technical grounds, Venezuela, part of an alliance of leftist governments in Latin America, said it was time to stop berating a man who has "done something very important for humanity".
"He deserves the world's protection," President Nicolas Maduro told Reuters during a visit to Moscow.
"He has a right to protection because the United States in its actions is persecuting him...Why are they persecuting him? What has he done? Did he launch a missile and kill someone? Did he rig a bomb and kill someone? No. He is preventing war."
Maduro said he would consider an asylum application. Snowden's request for safety in Ecuador, which has sheltered the founder of antisecrecy group WikiLeaks Julian Assange in its London embassy, has seemingly ended.
U.S. President Barack Obama has made clear to a number of countries that granting him asylum would carry costs.
I'm sure that Snowden will end up somewhere, but it will probably be a country that will leave him open to criticism. His range of choices has narrowed considerably and taking refuge in an authoritarian nation where privacy rights are honored in the breach and few civil liberties are evident will expose him to charges of hypocrisy.
From his point of view, that may be a small price to pay for staying out of jail.