US spying whistleblower Edward Snowden is likely to accept asylum in Venezuela to escape prosecution in his home country, according to the journalist who first published the documents he leaked.
In an interview after speaking to Snowden online, The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald said Venezuela is the most likely of several Latin American countries to guarantee safe passage for Snowden, especially as the US pressures other nations not to take him.
Nicaragua and Bolivia have also said they would accept Snowden but Venezuela is better poised “to get him safely from Moscow to Latin America and to protect him once he’s there,” Greenwald said.
“They’re a bigger country, a stronger country and a richer country with more leverage in international affairs,” said Greenwald.
Snowden has reportedly been stuck in the transit area of a Moscow airport for more than two weeks, after flying from Hong Kong after authorities there refused to hand him over to US authorities.
Greenwald said, however, that a resolution to the crisis is still unclear and could take “days or hours or weeks”.
“With no direct flights between Moscow and Caracas, Greenwald said Snowden’s challenge would be finding safe passage to Venezuela.
“Figuring out how to get to the country that has offered him asylum without the rogue or lawless empire that has proven itself willing to engage in rogue behaviour to prevent him physically from getting there, being able to stop him. That is the challenge,” he said.
The reporter also said recent contact with Snowden leads him to believe that the trove of documents that the whistleblower took from the US National Security Agency remains safely out of the hands of any foreign governments.
Snowden has revealed documents relating to huge covert US and UK government programmes that collect information on tens of millions of private phone calls and internet communications every day.
The governments say what they are doing is legal, and in the interest of national security.
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Meanwhile, WikiLeaks, on its own Twitter feed, said that states involved in deciding an asylum destination for Snowden “will make the announcement if and when the appropriate time comes.”
Wikileaks later said: “Tomorrow the first phase of Edward Snowden’s ‘Flight of Liberty’ campaign will be launched. Follow for further details.”
The group did not immediately provide any further information.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Friday that he had decided to offer the 30-year-old American asylum, but his government confirmed it had heard nothing back so far.
“He has to be on Venezuelan territory … The reality is that he is trapped in the airport’s transit zone,” Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said in Caracas on Tuesday.
Nicaragua and Bolivia also have said they would take in Snowden, who has appealed to about 20 countries for asylum