Snowden has been on the run since leaking documents revealing classified U.S. surveillance programs to The Guardian and Washington Post early last month. His revelations stirred up a frenzy of concern among privacy advocates around the world along with a high-degree of indignation from the U.S. government officials that have called him a traitor.
Snowden initially fled to Hong Kong before moving on Moscow using a special travel document provided by the Ecuadorean government. The U.S. had revoked his passport.
The U.S. government has accused Russia and China of declining to honor its request to extradite Snowden.
Russia has flatly refused to send him back to the U.S. while the Chinese and Hong Kong governments contend that the U.S. didn't make a proper request.
The Snowden revelations have also soured U.S. relations with several European Union and Latin American nations and countries.
Meanwhile, Snowden has spent the past several weeks in the transit area of Sheremetyevo airport, from where he has applied to nearly two dozen countries for asylum. Several countries denied the requests, while others said they would be considered only if Snowden filed it in person from within their borders.
Snowden today thanked Venezuela for granting him political asylum and expressed his appreciation to other governments that had extended similar offers.
"No state has a basis by which to limit or interfere with my right to enjoy that asylum," Snowden said. He pointed to a recent incident in which a La Paz-bound plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales was forced to land in Austria on suspicion that Snowden was on board.
"This unlawful threat makes it impossible for me to travel to Latin America and enjoy the asylum granted there in accordance with our shared rights," Snowden said in the statement.
The American Civil Liberties Union Friday chided the U.S. government for interfering with Snowden's right to seek asylum. "Ironically, U.S. actions (including whatever role the United States played in the incident involving President Morales' plane) have arguably strengthened Mr. Snowden's claims for asylum based on political persecution" the civil rights group said in a statement.
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