| BREAKING: Venezuela’s president Maduro says he has decided to offer asylum to Snowden!

| BREAKING: Venezuela‘s president Maduro says he has decided to offer asylum to Snowden!

“I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young American, Edward Snowden, so that in the fatherland of (Simon) Bolivar and (Hugo) Chavez, he can come and live away from the imperial North American persecution,” Maduro told a televised parade marking Venezuela’s independence day.

NSA leak fallout: LIVE UPDATES ~ RT.

Former CIA employee Edward Snowden has carried out one of the biggest leaks in US history, exposing a top-secret NSA surveillance program to the media. Leading tech companies were revealed to be involved in intelligence gathering through PRISM spy tool.

00:11 GMT Venezuela’s president Maduro says he has decided to offer asylum to US NSA- leaker Edward Snowden, Reuters reports.

“I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young American, Edward Snowden, so that in the fatherland of (Simon) Bolivar and (Hugo) Chavez, he can come and live away from the imperial North American persecution,” Maduro told a televised parade marking Venezuela’s independence day.

Saturday, July 6 

23:34 GMT: Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega said on Friday that he had received an asylum request from US NSA-leaker Edward Snowden and could accept the bid “if circumstances permit.”

“We are open, respectful of the right to asylum, and it is clear that if circumstances permit it, we would receive Snowden with pleasure and give him asylum here in Nicaragua,” Ortega said at a public event.

16:27 GMT: Edward Snowden has applied to another six states for political asylum, WikiLeaks reported. In an effort to avoid US interference, the six nations were not disclosed.

15:12 GMT: UK and Sweden have vetoed the discussion of traditional spying by the US on EU members during upcoming talks in Washington. Originally the EU envisaged two working groups – reports the Guardian – one discussing NSA and PRISM, and the other more traditional methods of espionage, but the two objectors said the EU had no authority to discuss matters of national security, particularly since policies differ widely among various member states. “Intelligence matters and those of national security are not the competence of the EU,” summed up José Manuel Barroso, the European commission president.

11:57 GMT: German Blush lingerie brand has decided to take advantage of the hype surrounding Edward Snowden, issuing a series of ads in which the whistleblower is mentioned. In one of them, the company offers him asylum in Berlin, promising that a “bed and champagne” is waiting for the NSA leaker upon arrival. Another ad features the slogan “Dear Edward Snowden, there’s still a lot to uncover” next to a female model in sexy underwear.

“We highly sympathize with what Snowden did,”
 said Johannes Krempl, director of Glow Advertising agency. “We owe him so much, and that’s why we thought we have to do something to express our feelings towards him and thank him, and that’s why we came up with this ad for Blush in support of his deeds.”


07:48 GMT: The US government has issued an arrest warrant for Edward Snowden to the Irish government. The request has been sent as a pre-emptive strike against Snowden’s potential attempt to fly to Havana, Cuba on a commercial flight which has a stopover in Shannon, Ireland for refueling.

06:35 GMT: The proposal to give Snowden Icelandic citizenship received limited support in Parliament on Thursday, the last day before summer recess, with only six members of minority parties in favor out of parliament’s 63 members.

Friday, July 5

21:17 GMT: A short movie on NSA leaker Edward Snowden has been filmed by a group of independent filmmakers in Hong Kong. Called “Verax,” or the truth teller in Latin, the 5-minute film has already been viewed over 130,000 times on YouTube.

Creators say the $600 budget movie was made in less than a week at the time Snowden was still in Hong-Kong.

The film depicts Snowden’s time spent in a Hong Kong hotel room while hiding from the intelligence services. The film also shows the Snowden-alike protagonist solving a Rubik’s cube – an object he reportedly identifies with.

‘Verax’ was reportedly the alias Snowden used when contacting journalists via encrypted chat services.

17:09 GMT: The Icelandic Parliament reportedly has a bill that would give Snowden Icelandic citizenship.

16:06 GMT: Paris has rejected Edward Snowden’s asylum request, AFP reports quoting ministerial officials.

So far, twelve countries including France have denied the whistleblower refuge. Egiht applications are still pending.

16:01 GMT: France’s external intelligence agency spies on French citizens‘ phone calls, emails, social media activity and web use, reports Le Monde. 

15:19 GMT: Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino says Rome cannot support Snowden’s request for Asylum. She stated that any request would have to be presented in person at the border or on Italian territory, which Snowden had not done.

“As a result there do not exist the legal conditions to accept such a request which in the government’s view would not be acceptable on a political level either,” she said.

Snowden has applied for asylum in 21 countries.

14:34 GMT: EU Parliament has voted to scrap two agreements granting the US access to European financial and travel data, unless Washington reveals the full extent of its spying on Europe.

 

Members of the EU Parliament take part in a voting session on the implications for EU citizens' privacy of the US Prism and other internet surveillance cases, on July 4, 2013 during a session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. (AFP Photo/Frederick Florin)Members of the EU Parliament take part in a voting session on the implications for EU citizens’ privacy of the US Prism and other internet surveillance cases, on July 4, 2013 during a session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France. (AFP Photo/Frederick Florin)

 

13:20 GMT: EU lawmakers on Thursday demanded ‘immediate clarification’ of US spying on EU offices and warned the scandal could damage trans-Atlantic relations. Lawmakers however rejected a call for the postponement of talks on a EU-US trade deal, which are due to start on Monday.

12:44 GMT: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has rejected an order for the extradition of former CIA employee Edward Snowden live on Venezuelan state channel Telesur.

“I reject any request for extradition, affirmed the president, speaking about Edward Snowden,” read a tweet posted on Telesur’s Twitter account.

11:53 GMT: Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has not applied for political asylum in Russia so it is not in Moscow’s power to decide his destiny, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated.“As of today, Russia has not received an application from Mr. Snowden for political asylum. We believe that without his determined personal decision in one direction or another, without his exact understanding of what is better for him, what solution he considers to be the optimal one, we are unable to decide for him. That’s all that can be said currently,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told journalists.

10:05 GMT: “Snowden, will you marry me?” Russian ‘femme fatale’ Anna Chapman asks via twitter. The red-haired tabloid darling came to world prominence after the spy scandal with ten Russians sleeper agents arrested in the US in June 2010. They were expelled from American soil after being traded on July 9 for four American spies serving jail terms in Russia, in what was the biggest prisoner swap since the fall of the Iron Curtain. After returning to Russia, Chapman has been enjoying an active media life and hosting a program on “Mysteries of the World” Russian REN TV channel.

9:13 GMT: The Bolivian government has rejected the American extradition request for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden as “baseless and illegal.”

“The bizarre, legally baseless and unusual request for the extradition of a person who is not on the territory of the state in question, will be returned to the United States immediately,” said a foreign ministry statement.

The Ministry stressed that Morales had at no point met with President Morales in Russia, nor did he get on the plane, nor is he presently on Bolivian territory”

5:02 GMT: The Bolivian President’s plane has finally landed in La Paz following its detention for over 13 hours in Vienna’s airport. The presidential craft made two stops during its journey in Brazil and the Canary Islands. President Evo Morales was greeted by a throng of supporters at the airport, who brandished banners and voiced their solidarity. The Bolivian leader addressed the crowd, declaring: “they will never intimidate us! They will never scare us!”

 

Four hours for President Evo Morales to arrive in Bolivia and the airport is already packed with people who want to welcome him. (Photo from Instagram/@RT)Four hours for President Evo Morales to arrive in Bolivia and the airport is already packed with people who want to welcome him. (Photo from Instagram/@RT)

 

Thursday, July 4

16:15 GMT: Protesters burn a French flag outside the French embassy in La Paz. Bolivian officials accused France, Portugal, Italy and Spain of denying entry to the President’s jet late Tuesday over “unfounded rumors” Snowden was traveling on board.

 

People burn a French flag in front of France's embassy in La Paz on June 03, 2013 . (AFP Photo)People burn a French flag in front of France’s embassy in La Paz on June 03, 2013 . (AFP Photo)

 

15:08 GMT: Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa has asked that the Unasur group of South American nations call an urgent meeting over travel restrictions placed on Bolivian President Evo Morales by France and Portugal, Unasur’s secretary general said in a statement on Wednesday.

12:03 GMT:

 

10:47 GMT: “An act of aggression and violation of international law” is how Bolivia’s UN envoydescribed Austria’s decision to search the Bolivian presidential jet for NSA leaker Edward Snowden. The envoy has pledged to make an official complaint to the UN.

Envoy Sacha Llorentty Soliz told press in New York that he had no doubt the decision to search the plane originated from the US.

10:39 GMT: France wants a temporary two week suspension of EU-US free trade talks in the light of the looming scandal over the US National Security Agency’s alleged spying on 38 embassies, including America’s NATO European allies. “It’s not a question of halting the negotiations,” French government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem noted, but “On the other hand, it would seem wise to us to suspend them for a couple of weeks to avoid any controversy and have the time to obtain the information we’ve asked for,” he said.

8:51 GMT: The Austrian authorities searched Morales’ plane for Edward Snowden, but found no stowaways on board, Austria’s deputy chancellor has said.

8:42 GMT: Spain has authorized Bolivia’s presidential jet to pass through its airspace and continue its journey to Bolivia, the Austrian President has said. The plane was grounded in Austria Wednesday morning over suspicions that Edward Snowden was on board.

The Austrian President, Heinz Fischer, announced that the Bolivian presidential jet will be on its way to La Paz “shortly” following a meeting with President Evo Morales. President Morales has spent 11 hours in the airport in Vienna waiting to resume his journey.

03:00 GMT: French officials have stated that technical problems prevented one of their airports from accepting president Evo Morales’ flight from landing. The Bolivian leader was en route from Russia following his attendance at a summit of major gas-exporting nations in Moscow.

According to the Associated Press, Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca has rejected any claims that the plane carrying the Bolivian head of state was denied entry over France and Portugal for anything other than political reasons.

“They say it was due to technical issues, but after getting explanations from some authorities we found that there appeared to be some unfounded suspicions that Mr. Snowden was on the plane … We don’t know who invented this lie,” said Choquehuanca.

While attending the energy conference in Russia this week, Morales told RT that he would consider granting asylum to Snowden if the request was made.

“It is possible that they want to intimidate us due to the statement made by President Morales that we would analyze an asylum request from Mr. Snowden,” said Defense Minister Ruben Saavedra.

“We have the suspicion that [France and Portugal] were used by a foreign power, in this case the United States, as a way of intimidating the Bolivian state and President Evo Morales.”

Saavedra confirmed that Italy had also denied Bolivia’s aircraft entry into its airspace. The Bolivian president meanwhile is spending the night at a hotel in Vienna.

01:08 GMT: Austrian ministry officials have confirmed that Snowden was not on Morales’ plane, AFP reported.

President Morales will leave early Wednesday morning for La Paz,” Austrian ministry spokesman Alexander Schallenberg said. He denied any knowledge of why the plane landed there.

00:41 GMT: Imprisoned former CIA officer John Kiriakou has written a letter supporting Snowden’s decision to leak information about the massive surveillance apparatus employed by the US. Kiriakou was the first CIA officer to publicly acknowledge that torture treated as legal under former president George W. Bush. He was convicted in October 2012 of disclosing the name of an officer who worked in the CIA’s Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation program to a reporter and sentenced to thirty months behind bars earlier this year.

 

Imprisoned former CIA officer John Kiriakou (Photo from tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com)Imprisoned former CIA officer John Kiriakou (Photo from tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com)

 

Kiriakou, in his second note published by Firedog Lake, advised Snowden to “find the best national security attorneys money can buy,” while recommending the American Civil Liberties Union and Government Accountability Project as two potential leads.

You’re going to need the support of prominent Americans and groups who can explain to the public why what you did is so important,” Kiriakou wrote, while adding that the “most important advice” he can offer is to “not, under any circumstances, cooperate with the FBI.”

 

Image from dissenter.firedoglake.comImage from dissenter.firedoglake.com

 

00:07 GMT: The Bolivian Chamber of Deputies, the country’s national legislature, expressed solidarity with President Evo Morales after his plane from Moscow was diverted away from French and Portuguese airspace because of a rumor that Edward Snowden was onboard.

This is a lie, a falsehood. It was generated by the US government,” Bolivian Defense Minister Ruben Saavedra told. “It t is an outrage. It is an abuse. It is a violation of the conventions and agreements of international air transportation.”

Ecuador also suggested an emergency meeting of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) after the incident Tuesday.

 

The Bolivian presidential airplane is parked at the Vienna International Airport in Schwechat July 3, 2013. (Reuters)The Bolivian presidential airplane is parked at the Vienna International Airport in Schwechat July 3, 2013. (Reuters)

 

Wednesday, July 3

22:24 GMT: A Bolivian Minister has announced that Morales’ plane was forced to re-route on the suspicion that Snowden was on board, according to the Associated Press.

22:21 GMT: After departing from Russia the plane of Bolivian President Evo Morales was forced to make an emergency landing in Austria. Bolivian authorities denied rumors that Edward Snowden was on board, though the fugitive whistleblower did send a political asylum request to Bolivia that has yet to be answered; he also petitioned Austria but was rejected.

Reports indicated the plane made previous attempts to land in France and Portugal but was denied because of the possibility that Snowden was on board.

17:53 GMT: Snowden’s father has written an open letter to him extolling him for “summoning the American people to confront the growing danger of tyranny.” Snowden’s father has expressed concern that WikiLeaks supporters who have been helping his son seek asylum may not have his best interests at heart. The father has said he’d like his son to return to the U.S. under the right circumstances.

14:43 GMT: In his asylum request to Poland, Snowden said that he risks facing the death penalty if he returns to the US.

14:10 GMT: Venezuela’s president, Nicolás Maduro, says Venezuela is ready to consider an asylum request from Snowden.

“In any case, this young man must be protected in terms of international and humanitarian law. He has a right to be protected, because he is being pursued be the US. By its president, vice president, by the secretary of State. Why is he being pursued?What kind of crime has he committed? Has he launched a missile and killed anyone? Has he planted a bomb and killed anyone? No, he hasn’t. On the contrary, he is doing everything to prevent wars, to prevent any kind of illegal action against the whole world. Venezuela hasn’t so far received an asylum request from Snowden – when we get it we are ready to consider it,” Maduro told journalists in Moscow on Tuesday.

 

President Nicolas Maduro seen attending the Kremlin's joint press conference, July 2, 2013 (RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolskyi)President Nicolas Maduro seen attending the Kremlin’s joint press conference, July 2, 2013 (RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolskyi)

 

14:07 GMT: According to Wikileaks, Snowden has received asylum rejections from Poland, Finland, India, and Brazil. Applications made to Austria, Ecuador, Norway, and Spain are only valid if made on the countries’ home soils. Venezuela says it is willing to consider an asylum request from Snowden.

Bolivia, China, Cuba, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Nicaragua, and Switzerland have not yet responded to Snowden’s requests for asylum.

Snowden gave up on his initial request to stay in Russia, after President Putin said his asylum bid was contingent on his cessation of “anti-American activity,” according to presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

13:35 GMT: Italy’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Snowden’s asylum application was not filed correctly because Snowden would have to be on Italian soil for it to be valid. Furthermore, his application was received by fax, which is not allowed under Italian law.

12:40 GMT: Brazil has refused the asylum request from NSA leaker Edward Snowden, a spokesperson for the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said in a statement.

12:25 GMT: Poland, America’s most faithful ally in Eastern Europe, has announced it is going to demand explanations from Washington over NSA surveillance of Polish diplomats in EU facilities and the country’s embassy in the US. “We will demand an explanation for NSA (US National Security Agency) actions towards Poland and the EU,” Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski wrote in a Twitter post.

10:36 GMT: India has rejected Snowden’s application for political asylum, stating they have “no reason” to accede to the request.

“Indian Embassy in Moscow did receive a request for asylum in a communication dated 30 June from Mr Edward Snowden,” Syed Akbaruddin, a spokesman for India’s foreign ministry, said on Twitter.

10:00 GMT: Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo knows nothing of an asylum request from Edward Snowden, but has reiterated statements made by other states that an asylum application is only valid when made on Spanish soil.

For an asylum petition to become a petition that the government could study, in other words for it to be legally admissible, it has to be made by a person who is in Spain,” Reuters cites Garcia-Margallo as saying.

09:00 GMT: Finnish asylum cannot be requested from abroad, according to Keijo Norvanto, Head of the Unit for Communications at Finland’s Foreign Ministry.

We can confirm that we received the request. But we cannot consider it official. To officially seek political asylum, Snowden must first come to Finland and go to the police or migration service. But in this case the request procedure was violated, so the appeal is not going to be considered,” ITAR-TASS news agency cites Norvanto as saying.

08:30 GMT: Snowden’s request for asylum was handed over to the Austrian embassy in Moscow on Monday, but it can only be submitted in Austria directly, APA news agency cites the country’s Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner, as saying. When asked by journalists if Snowden could be extradited once in Austria, the Minister answered that no international arrest warrant had been issued for the whistleblower.

08:00 GMT: Edward Snowden gave up on his initial request to stay in Russia, after President Putin said his asylum bid was contingent on his cessation of “anti-American activity”, said presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov.  The whistleblower continues to remain in the transit zone of the Sheremetyevo airport and has never crossed the Russian border, Peskov continued. He reiterated that Russian intelligence had never worked with the whistleblower, nor had Snowden ever been a Russian intelligence agent. Peskov stressed Russia will never hand over anyone to a country where capital punishment is enforced.

 

Russia's President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov attends a meeting with the Venezuelan delegation, led by President Nicolas Maduro, at the Kremlin in Moscow, July 2, 2013. (Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov attends a meeting with the Venezuelan delegation, led by President Nicolas Maduro, at the Kremlin in Moscow, July 2, 2013. (Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)

 

00:00 GMT:  In a statement released through WikiLeaks, Snowden thanked his supporters and decried the Obama administration’s method of trying to intimidate countries that would consider granting him political asylum.

For decades the United States of America [has] been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum,” Snowden wrote. “Sadly, this right laid out and voted for by the US in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is now being rejected by the current government of my country. The Obama administration has now adopted the strategy of using citizenship as a weapon.

Although I am convicted of nothing,” the statement continues, “it has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me in a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me [from] exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.”

 

Tuesday, July 2

18:30 GMT: Speaking to RT Spanish, Bolivian president Evo Morales has said that Edward Snowden has not requested political asylum from his country.

“If there were a request, of course we would be willing to debate and consider the idea,” said Morales.

The president further explained that Bolivia was prepared to “assist” the whistleblower.

 

Bolivian president Evo Morales visiting RT Spanish TV channel (RT photo / Semyon Khorunzhy)Bolivian president Evo Morales visiting RT Spanish TV channel (RT photo / Semyon Khorunzhy)

 

“Why not? Well, he’s left much to be discussed … and a debate on the international level, and of course, Bolivia is there to shield the denounced, whether it’s espionage or control, in either case, we are here to assist.”

16:00 GMT: US President Barack Obama said Washington and Moscow had held high level discussions regarding the issue of fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden, adding that he hoped Russia would help resolve the issue on the basis of international standards.

 

US President Barack Obama, July 1, 2013. (AFP Photo / Saul Loeb)US President Barack Obama, July 1, 2013. (AFP Photo / Saul Loeb)

 

Obama, noting that the US does not have an extradition treaty with Russia, said that Snowden had arrived in the country without a valid passport, and hoped Moscow would thus make a decision which was on par with the regular protocols of international travel and cooperation between law enforcement agencies.

Obama would not confirm reports that law enforcement agencies in both countries had been ordered to find a solution regarding Snowden.

15:32 GMT: Edward Snowden has not applied for asylum in Russia, according to the Russian Immigration Service.

The statement comes after a New York Times report which cited “a Russian immigration source close to the matter” as saying that Snowden has, in fact, sought asylum.

 

15:30 GMT: Russian President Vladimir Putin said  that Russia would not hand over former NSA contractor Edward Snowden to the United States, but added that if Snowden wanted to say in the country he “must stop his work aimed at harming our American partners”.

“Russia has never extradited anyone and is not going to do so. Same as no one has ever been extradited to Russia,” Putin stated.

“At best,” he noted, Russia exchanged its foreign intelligence employees detained abroad for“those who were detained, arrested and sentenced by a court in the Russian Federation.”

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin, July 1, 2013. (RIA Novosti / Mikhail Klementiev)Russian President Vladimir Putin, July 1, 2013. (RIA Novosti / Mikhail Klementiev)

 

Snowden “is not a Russian agent”, the president continued, stressing that Russian intelligence services were not working with the American whistleblower.

Putin added that Snowden should choose his final destination and go there.

13:56 GMT: Presidents Putin and Obama have instructed their nations’ securities services – Russia’s FSB and American FBI respectively – to solve the situation around the Snowden case, said the Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolay Patrushev.

12:53 GMT: France and Germany have demanded the US account for leaked reports of massive-scale US spying on the EU. French President Francois Hollande called for an end to surveillance while Germany said such “Cold War-style behavior” was “unacceptable.”

The German government summoned the US ambassador to Germany, Philip Murphy, to Berlin on Monday to explain the incendiary reports.  Chancellor Merkel’s spokesperson said the government wants “trust restored.”

While French President Francois Hollande said the spying should “stop immediately.”

 

Francois Hollande (AFP Photo / Patrick Kovarik)Francois Hollande (AFP Photo / Patrick Kovarik)

 

09:13 GMT: Juergen Trittin, German parliamentary leader and candidate for chancellor of the Greens – the country’s third largest party – told German television that whistleblower Edward Snowden should be granted safe haven in Europe and not seek asylum in “despotic” countries.

“It’s painful for democrats that someone who has served democracy and, in our view, uncovered a massive violation of basic rights, should have to seek refuge with despots who have problems with basic rights themselves,” Trittin said.

“Someone like that should be protected,” he continued. “That counts for Mr. Snowden. He should get safe haven here in Europe because he has done us a service by revealing a massive attack on European citizens and companies. Germany, as part of Europe, could do that.”

The deputy did not specify which “despots” he had in mind.

Tritten’s comments come amidst reports that the National Security Agency (NSA) monitors half a billion phone calls, emails and text messages in Germany during an average month, far outpacing US surveillance of any other European state.

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