THIS IS the most unenviable position to inhabit. President Maduro of Venezuela announced on Friday that his country would offer NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden asylum, while simultaneously citing Syria’s Bashar al-Assad as a “legitimate president.” The human rights violations of Assad, with torture and mass killings already proven even before the chemical weapons allegations, is ignored by many Latin American leaders, but not by Mr. Snowden’s American critics.
It’s the perfect political development for the Obama administration, which puts Edward Snowden in a box easily characterized negatively.
All of this comes as France is forced to admit, after President Hollande lectured the U.S., that they’ve got their own spying dragnet going. Le Monde broke the story, with the New York Times picking it up.
Days after President FranÃ§ois Hollande sternly told the United States to stop spying on its allies, the newspaper Le Monde disclosed on Thursday that France has its own large program of data collection, which sweeps up nearly all the data transmissions, including telephone calls, e-mails and social media activity, that come in and out of France.
[…] The system is run with “complete discretion, at the margins of legality and outside all serious control,” the newspaper said, describing it as “a-legal.”
In the terrorism era, this is standard national practice, which is likely one reason Mr. Snowden blew the whistle.
Maduro said Venezuela was ready to offer him sanctuary, and that the details Snowden had revealed of a US spy program had exposed the nefarious schemes of the US “empire”.
“He has told the truth, in the spirit of rebellion, about the US spying on the whole world,” Maduro said.
“Who is the guilty one? A young man … who denounces war plans, or the US government which launches bombs and arms the terrorist Syrian opposition against the people and legitimate president Bashar al-Assad?”
“Who is the terrorist? Who is the global delinquent?”
Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega followed President Maduro, which is what brother countries do when their patron makes a move.
“We are an open country, respectful of the right of asylum, and it’s clear that if circumstances permit, we would gladly receive Snowden and give him asylum in Nicaragua,” Ortega said during a speech in the Nicaraguan capital, Managua.
Both offers from the Latin American leaders come with an “if circumstances permit” caveats.
Meanwhile, Russia’s annoyance with their guest is wearing out his ability to wait out a better option.