Asylum: Venezuela Awaits Snowden's Response
The Foreign Affairs Minister
Elías Jaua, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, declared on Saturday that the country has yet to receive a response from Edward Snowden regarding President Nicolás Maduro’s offer of political asylum. Snowden is accused of espionage for having revealed the world’s biggest internet and telephone surveillance system.
Jaua also said he will be in touch with officials from the Russian Federation to evaluate the situation.
In response to statements from rightwing leaders who criticized the offer of humanitarian asylum for Snowden, the Foreign Minister noted Venezuela’s history of protecting political refugees and explained that asylum would be based on international law.
“Venezuela has a historical tradition of granting asylum to political refugees throughout the world. This is not new—it has deepened during the Bolivarian Revolution, but it is an inherent tradition of our nation. . . . If this young man is persecuted for having revealed systematic espionage … we have the right to evaluate, consider and accept a request for asylum,” Jaua explained.
The Foreign Minister also noted the political reasons for which Venezuela ought to protect Edward Snowden.
“This is about us. We are one of the countries being watched, as this young American has documented. One of Snowden’s reports showed that President Chávez was spied on in Rome during his visit in 2006. Two spy planes flew over Rome and listened in on almost every telephone line, solely because of George Bush’s obsession with spying on President Hugo Chávez. We have also been affected [by the spying program], and this is just one incident that has been revealed, but it is clear that Venezuela features largely in this history of espionage, surveillance and control,” he said.
MinCi/Press – Venezuelan Embassy to the U.S. / July 8, 2013