Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Tuesday he would consider granting asylum to former CIA leaker Edward Snowden.
“We would consider it, because the asylum is a measure of humanitarian protection and is a mechanism of the international humanitarian law, which is popular in Latin America and was always used to protect helpless,” President Maduro said during his official visit to the impoverished Caribbean Island of Haiti.
“We have not received an official request. But in the event we were to receive one, we would evaluate it as we understand Ecuador is doing similarly,” Maduro added.
Speaking on Haiti’s state television, he further defended Snowden’s action in revealing massive American surveillance programs, insisting that he deserves “humanitarian protection.”
“No one has the right to spy after someone else and this youngster [Snowden], who told the world about it, deserves humanitarian protection,” Maduro said.
Snowden was reportedly on his way to Ecuador via Russia, following his sudden departure from Hong Kong on Sunday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, announced on Tuesday that Snowden was still in the transit area of a Moscow airport and free to depart towards whatever destination he so chooses.
Snowden is wanted by the U.S. government for disclosing one of its top-secret surveillance programs and has formally been charged with three felonies, including two under the Espionage Act.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has threatened Moscow and Beijing with “consequences” for allowing Snowden to board a flight to Moscow, prompting harsh reactions by Chinese and Russian leaders.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that Moscow has no extradition agreement with the U.S., calling Washington’s rhetoric against Moscow as “ravings and rubbish.”
China’s official news agency also slammed the United States as the world’s “biggest villain” following the latest revelations on Washington’s cyber espionage against Chinese companies and institutions.
“These, along with previous allegations, are clearly troubling signs. They demonstrate that the United States, which has long been trying to play innocent as a victim of cyber attacks, has turned out to be the biggest villain in our age,” said a commentary published in the Xinhua news agency on Sunday.
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