On an official visit to Haiti where he met President Michel Martelly, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Tuesday (June 25) that he would consider an asylum request by U.S. fugitive Edward Snowden, who has claimed responsibility for leaking details about secret U.S. surveillance programmes to news media.
Maduro's comments came as he exchanged gifts with Martelly, amid speculation Snowden is destined for Quito after anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks said he was "bound for Ecuador via a safe route for the purpose of asylum."
Earlier this week, a source at Russian airline Aeroflot had reported Snowden had booked a ticket to Cuba and then planned to go to Venezuela. On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed that Snowden was in the transit area of a Moscow airport.
Venezuela is an OPEC nation and uses substantial funds to aid its leftist allies.
Along with Cuba and Ecuador, it is a member of the ALBA bloc, an alliance of leftist governments in Latin America that pride themselves on their "anti-imperialist" credentials.
Taking in Snowden would mark an escalation in tensions between Venezuela and the United States. The left-leaning South American nation has long been an ardent critic of the United States and, in 2010, both countries pulled their ambassadors over a diplomatic spat.
Presented by Adam Justice