Cuba’s Castro Backs Snowden Asylum Offers
From VOA News
Cuban President Raul Castro has voiced his support for the three leftist nations offering asylum to former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
Castro said he supports the right of all countries in the region to grant asylum to those “persecuted for their ideals.”
The leaders of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia have said they would take in the 30-year-old Snowden, who leaked secret details of surveillance programs conducted by the clandestine U.S. National Security Agency.
It is not clear how Snowden will get to any of the Latin American nations. The Cuban government has not said whether it would allow him to pass through.
Snowden is believed to be in the transit area of Moscow Airport since arriving on a flight from Hong Kong two weeks ago, unable to travel farther because the United States annulled his passport.
An influential Russian parliament member who often speaks for the Kremlin has encouraged Snowden to accept Venezuela’s asylum offer.
Alexei Pushkov, who heads the international affairs committee in Russia’s parliament, has posted several messages on Twitter about the case, including one Sunday that says “Venezuela is waiting for an answer from Snowden. This, perhaps, is his last chance to receive political asylum.”
Meanwhile, Brazil’s foreign minister says his government is worried about a newspaper report that the U.S. has collected data on billions of telephone and email conversations in his country. He promised an effort for international protection of Internet privacy.
Antonio Patriota said Brazil will demand an explanation from the United States. Brazil also plans to propose changes to international communications rules.
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 will consider his asylum bid.
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.
The NSA says the information it has collected helped foil terrorist attacks. Snowden has said Americans should know their government has them under surveillance.