A huge question mark hangs over the fate of former US security service contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden as he awaits news on asylum requests he has made to various countries. In the meantime, Snowden remains in a diplomatic no-man’s-land in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport nine days after arriving there from Hong Kong.
He fled the United States, where he is wanted by the US administration for revealing embarrassing details about US electronic surveillance of its own citizens and foreign governments. With his American passport revoked, his partners at WikiLeaks say he has requested asylum in 21 countries: Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Switzerland and Venezuela. He had already sent applications to Ecuador and Iceland.
So far, none have agreed to approve his request and with his preferred destinations turning him down, Snowden is running out of options. Venezuela is the only one of the 21 countries to have shown any positive interest.
Who will grant Snowden asylum?
Austria – NO Says it can only grant asylum if request is made when on Austrian territory
Bolivia – POSSIBLY Bolivia say it did not receive Snowden’s application but president said he would consider granting him asylum.
Brazil – NO Officials have announced they will not grant his request, they will leave it unanswered.
China – ? Officials say they have no information on Snowden’s request
Cuba – ?
Ecuador – NO The president has said Ecuador is not considering the request, as it was made outside Ecuadorean territory
Finland – NO Says it can only grant asylum if request is made when on Finnish territory
France – NO France has officially rejected Snowden’s request.
Germany – NO After studying the “legal viability” of the request they rejected the application
Iceland – ?
India – NO India’s foreign ministry says it “sees no reason to accept” Snowden’s request
Italy – NO Italy has officially rejected Snowden’s request.
Ireland – NO Says legally impossible as Snowden is not on Irish territory
Netherlands – UNLIKELY. Says it can only grant asylum if request is made when on Dutch territory
Nicaragua – ?
Norway UNLIKELY. Says it can only grant asylum if request is made when on Norwegian territory
Poland – NO Request rejected
Russia – NO Snowden withdrew the request himself
Spain – NO Says legally impossible as Snowden is not on Spanish territory
Switzerland – UNLIKELY. Says it has not yet received an asylum request and that it can only grant asylum if request is made on Swiss territory.
Venezuela – POSSIBLY. President Maduro says Snowden “needs the world’s protection:”
Ruling out Russia
A press secretary for Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed his whereabouts in Sheremetyevo’s transit area, adding that Snowden had not crossed the Russian border. Snowden has withdrawn a request for asylum in Russia after Putin said that the leaking of sensitive US data should stop. Putin told a press conference on Monday: “If Snowden wants to remain here, there is one condition. He must cease his activities aimed at inflicting damage on our American partners, no matter how strange it may sound coming from my lips.”
Of the 21 countries on Snowden’s wish-list, several including Poland, India and Brazil have already refused to grant Snowden asylum. Many others have said they cannot grant asylum unless the application is made on their sovereign territory. French president François Hollande has said he would like the EU to draw up a common position.
Norwegian Deputy Justice Secretary Paal Loenseth explained that Snowden would be an unlikely candidate for asylum, saying: “The Norwegian authorities can theoretically permit entry to Norway and asylum to a person that we think is important for foreign political reasons, but I can’t see any such reasons in this particular case.”
Venezuela a possibility
Venezuela claims not yet to have received an official request but the country’s President, Nicolas Maduro suggests that Venezuela would be a possibility for Snowden. Maduro said on Tuesday: “He deserves the world’s protection…We think this young person has done something very important for humanity, has done a favour to humanity, has spoken great truths to deconstruct a world that…is controlled by an imperialist American elite.”
Timeline of the Snowden affair: