US thwarting all attempts at whistle-blower asylum

The United States is conducting a diplomatic full-court press to try to block Edward J. Snowden, the fugitive American intelligence contractor, from finding refuge in Latin America, where three left-leaning governments that make defying Washington a hallmark of their foreign policies have publicly vowed to take him in. Washington is finding that its leverage in Latin America is limited just when it needs it most, a reflection of how a region that was once a broad zone of American power has become increasingly confident in its ability to act independently.
Senior State Department officials have also pushed Venezuela, one of the three countries offering to shelter him, with both sides keenly aware that hopes for better ties and an exchange of ambassadors after years of tension could be on the line.
And all across the region, American embassies have communicated Washington’s message that letting Mr. Snowden into Latin America, even if he shows up unexpectedly, would have lasting consequences.
State Department official focusing on the matter said recently, that helping Mr. Snowden “would put relations in a very bad place for a long time to come.If someone thinks things would go away, it won’t be the case.”
The countries offering to take in Mr. Snowden — Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia — belong to a bloc of governments engaged in a constant war of words with the United States. Venezuela and Bolivia have expelled American ambassadors and other officials, and in a television interview this week Venezuela’s foreign minister openly shrugged off the American pressure campaign.
“The State Department and the government of the United States should know that Venezuela learned a long time ago and defeated pressures from any part of the world,” the minister, Elías Jaua, said.
Now it is Latin America’s turn. This week, a Brazilian newspaper, O Globo, has printed articles based on his leaks about how the United States has been collecting data on telephone calls and e-mail traffic in Brazil and other Latin American countries, pushing even close allies of the United States to lodge angry protests with Washington.
The intensity in the region has been fueled in part by the airborne misadventure last week of President Evo Morales of Bolivia, whose plane was turned back from French airspace and forced to make an emergency landing in Vienna after a meeting in Moscow, where Mr. Snowden has been holed up in an airport.
Bolivian authorities called the episode a hijacking, saying the reason was unfounded suspicions that Mr. Snowden was on board, and they accused the United States of being behind it. They also accused Spain, Portugal and Italy of refusing to allow Mr. Morales’s plane to fly over or land in their countries. Latin American leaders quickly rallied to his side, condemning the treatment as an affront to the entire region.
Washington’s push for extradition has poked at a sore spot for several countries that have sought the extradition of people wanted by their justice systems. Venezuela has demanded the extradition of Luis Posada Carriles, a former C.I.A. operative accused here of masterminding the bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people in the 1970s. He escaped from a Venezuelan prison in the 1980s and went to live in the United States. “The first thing you need to do to have the moral standing to ask for the extradition of this youth Snowden, whose only act is to reveal the crimes that you committed, is to turn over Luis Posada Carriles, who you are protecting,”
William and Roberto Isaias, who ran a bank at the center of a huge Ecuadorean financial scandal in the 1990s. They were convicted in absentia of financial wrongdoing in an Ecuadorean court. They now live in the United States, but repeated requests for extradition have been unsuccessful.

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