Snowden nightmare: How to flee to South America

Fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden was staring at the logistical nightmare of escaping Russia for a safe haven in Latin America Sunday after three leftist leaders offered him asylum in their countries. Bolivia on Saturday became the third nation to extend an asylum offer to the 30-year-old former NSA contractor after similar guarantees from Venezuela and Nicaragua.
Bolivia will “give asylum to the American, if he asks”, Bolivian President Evo Morales said. All three nations have strained ties with Washington and are Snowden’s best options after facing rejection by most of the 21 nations he had applied to for protection last week. The fugitive remained hidden out of sight in a Moscow airport transit zone for the 15th day Sunday.
But Snowden was back in the press with a claim published Sunday that the NSA operated broad secret spying partnerships with other Western governments that are now complaining. He told Germany’s Der Spiegel NSA spies were “in bed together with the Germans and most other Western states”. Washington has urged Russia to hand over Snowden as a goodwill gesture as the two have no extradition treaty, but President Vladimir Putin flatly refused and suggested Snowden had better quickly decide where he wanted to go. Venezuela may be Snowden’s best option but the only flights to Latin America from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport are routed through Cuba, which has remained conspicuously silent throughout the dispute. Snowden also faces the risk of his plane being grounded by a European nation as happened to Bolivia’s President Morales when he was suspected of trying to smuggle the American from Moscow earlier this week. All flights to Cuba also pass through the same EU airspace, and there is no guarantee Snowden’s jet won’t be stopped and searched.

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