Diplomats from Russia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Cuba will meet in Moscow on Monday to discuss the situation of U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.
The ex-NSA contractor has requested asylum in Ecuador to avoid what he fears would result in judicial persecution if he is extradited to the United States.
Snowden released information to the Washington Post and UK Guardian from 6 June revealing the existence of a U.S. government intelligence program Prism, which uses data from internet companies to collect information on people’s communication across the globe.
He is now wanted by U.S. federal prosecutors on three charges related to espionage: theft of government property, unauthorised communication of national defence information, and willful communication of classified intelligence to an unauthorised person.
Today Snowden spends his fifth day in Moscow, presumably in Shemeretievo airport, where he fled from Hong Kong in order to escape an extradition request.
On Monday diplomats from Russia and the three leftist Latin American countries will meet with human rights activists in the Russian Public Chambers, a consultative body linked to the Kremlin, ”to give a social evaluation of the situation,” a Public Chambers spokesperson said.
Observers consider the possibility of Ecuador offering Snowden asylum to have increased after the Ecuadorian government renounced trade preferences with the U.S. as a sign that it “doesn’t accept pressure or threats from anyone”.
Last night Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro also appeared to further open the door to Snowden, stating that if an asylum request was made, Venezuela would be willing to offer the whistleblower protection.
“No one has requested us asylum for him [Snowden], but if he wants, Venezuela is willing to protect this brave young man in a humanitarian way, so that humanity knows the truth,” Maduro said at an event in the presidential palace.
The Venezuelan president will also be in Moscow next Monday to attend a meeting of the Forum of Gas Exporting Countries.
U.S. pursues normalisation of Venezuela relations
Meanwhile, the United States has reported it has a “strong interest” in normalising relations with Venezuela, making the exchange of ambassadors for the first time since 2010 a priority.
According to a State Department spokesperson, a meeting was held between State Department secretary for Latin America, Roberta Jacoson, and the diplomat charged with Venezuelan affairs in Washington, Calixto Ortega, on Tuesday.
The spokesperson said that the meeting was held “to continue our high level dialogue with the aim of exploring options of how to improve ties between the U.S. and Venezuela”.
“We have a strong interest in continuing to work together on affairs of mutual interest, to protect and secure our national interest,” the spokesperson added.
The move comes after Venezuelan foreign minister Elias Jaua and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met at the side on an OAS summit earlier this month, where they agreed to finds ways to build “a more constructive and positive relationship”.
Jacobson and Ortega also agreed to meet “regularly” to continue dialogue between the two governments.