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Venezuela's Maduro reiterates Snowden asylum offer

Venezuelas Maduro reiterates Snowden asylum offer

Caracas: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has reiterated his offer to grant asylum to fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, whom he praised as a "brave youth."

"If that young man needs humanitarian protection and believes that he can come to Venezuela," then Venezuela "is prepared to protect this brave youth in a humanitarian way and so that humanity can learn the truth," and his ordeal can end, Maduro said.

US authorities want Snowden for leaking details of vast US surveillance programs.

The Kremlin says he has been in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport since he arrived on a flight from Hong Kong on Sunday, though he has not appeared in public and he failed to board a flight to Havana on Monday.

Ecuador appears to be Snowden's most likely destination, but President Rafael Correa said Thursday that the government had not yet considered his case.

Maduro described Snowden's actions as "the rebellion of truth," and representative of "something that is happening among US youth."

Ecuador's leftist government defiantly pulled out of a trade pact with the United States yesterday, claiming it had become an instrument of "blackmail" as Quito considers Snowden's asylum bid.

The Andean nation however denied reports that it authorized a "safepass" travel document for the former National Security Agency contractor, and said it would be unable to process his asylum bid until he enters Ecuadoran territory.

Maduro expressed support for his Ecuadoran counterpart.

"Comrade Rafael Correa, count on us ... for all of the needed support," he said.

Venezuela at the same time is seeking to improve relations with the United States, and in early June announced there would be talks that could lead to the countries exchanging ambassadors for the first time since 2010.


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