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Wanted: a safe haven for American whistleblower. Any takers?














Edward Snowden's image on a TV screen in Hong Kong. Vince Yu/Associated Press

The American whistleblower Edward Snowden has appealed to 21 countries to give him asylum without success, a Wikileaks statement says. 

The former government contractor has been stranded in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport since June 23 as Wikileaks lawyers frantically try to get him out of the reach of US law. His American passport has been revoked. 

The countries are:

Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Venezuela, Ecuador and Iceland. The Guardian newspaper and Reuters have published their interesting responses. 

No response:  France, China, Bolivia, Brazil and Cuba, Iceland, and Nicaragua haven’t bothered to respond.

Sorry, but he hasn't ticked the right boxes: Finland, Ireland, Norway, Italy and Spain have used the bureaucratic excuse that Snowden must be on their country’s soil for his application to be processed which they know is impossible because Snowden no longer has a US passport.

Are you kidding me? Germany sounded credulous Snowden would even ask. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Germany had received an asylum request but he "could not imagine" that it would be approved, the Guardian reported. India's foreign ministry spokesman tweeted: "Following careful examination we have concluded that we see no reason to accede to the Snowden request." 

Yes, er, no: Ecuador looked like his best chance for a life raft, but has now backtracked. President Rafael Correa told The Guardian was not considering the application. Russian president Vladimir Putin's office said Snowden withdrew his request for asylum because he would not agree to stop activities harming the US.  

Perhaps the most illuminating answer came from Venezuela's president Nicolas Maduro who first defended Snowden.  "He only told the world a large truth to prevent war. The US capitalist elite are trying to control the world and are spying on friends, foes and the entire planet," Maduro told reporters in Moscow.  But when asked if he would take Snowden back to Venezeula he responded: "We will take with us numerous agreements on investments in the oil and gas sector."

Hamida Ghafour is a foreign affairs reporter at The Star. She has lived and worked in the Middle East and Asia for more than 10 years and is the author of a book on Afghanistan. Follow her on Twitter @HamidaGhafour


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