Image: The Guardian
Wikileaks and various news agencies report that NSA leaker Edward Snowden has prepared asylum requests for (at least) 21 nations, including Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and Venezuela.
The government of Ecuador said they couldn't consider his request unless he was in Ecuador or inside one of their embassies. The US has revoked his passport, which makes getting anywhere difficult from his current (presumed) location: an international no-mans-land connected to Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport.
The AP's Eastern Europe News Director, Ian Phillips, flew there to try and find Snowden. He didn't, despite wardialing all floors of the prison-hotel where stateless passengers are held. But his surreal account of 21 hours in Snowden's shoes is a must-read.
If Snowden is in the transit zone, Phillips writes, "he may already have a taste of what it's like to be in prison."
But Snowden would very much like to avoid prison. Norway and Poland have replied to the former government security contractor's plea with what amounts to "fat chance." Russian president Putin said "only if you stop hurting America," which effectively means "nyet."
Reuters reports that "Finland, Spain, Ireland and Austria said he had to be in their countries to make a request, while India said 'we see no reason' to accept his petition. France said it had not received a request."
Russian news services report that the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, defended Snowden while speaking to legislators and reporters at Russia's Parliament. "He did not kill anyone and he did not plant a bomb," Maduro is quoted as having said in Russia, "He only said a big truth to prevent wars."
Maduro continued, "We think this young person has done something very important for humanity, has done a favor to humanity, has spoken great truths to deconstruct a world… controlled by an imperialist American elite."
The Venezuelan leader said Snowden deserves protection under international law, but that the South American nation has not yet received his application for political asylum.
Would he take Snowden back from Russia to Venezuela with him, if he did receive such a request? Ever the pragmatist, Maduro replied, "What we're taking with us are multiple agreements that we're signing with Russia, including oil and gas."
It's getting hard to keep track of which countries have said what in response to Snowden's plea. Luckily, the Guardian has a scorecard here.
But as the prospects appear increasingly dim, remember: Snowden only needs one "yes." Well, that and safe passage.
Previously: Boing Boing archival coverage of Edward Snowden