Edward Snowden is an international man of mystery in need of a country that will grant him asylum. PHOTO: Reuters
Where in the world will Edward Snowden end up? The list of countries is dwindling, as Snowden’s speed dating asylum requests get rejected one after another. According to WikiLeaks, Snowden applied for asylum from 21 countries. Snowden, however, withdrew his request from Russia after President Vladimir Putin said that Snowden could stay in Moscow as long as he stops "harming our American partners" with his leaks.
Also out: So that puts Snowden down to 20 possible asylum destinations, but, most of them replied by saying that any request for asylum would have to come from inside the country or at the border. This response came from: Brazil, Austria, Ecuador (more on them in a bit), Finland, India, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain and Switzerland. India simply denied the request.
Don’t count on it:China will likely decide that it isn’t worth picking a fight with the U.S. over this. France and Germany seem unlikely to antagonize the U.S. in this way, but interestingly, Germany left the door open, noting that they would have to look at Snowden’s case closely to see if there was an urgent legal or humanitarian reason to take him in.
So who is left?
The remaining list of countries that could grant Edward Snowden asylum make up our top 6, listed in increasing order of likeliness that they will grant Edward Snowden asylum.
They have the history of defying the U.S., but also a history of the U.S. walking all over them when there is a political/business reason to do so. They likely have the desire to help Snowden, but not to incite U.S. aggression in any form (we have many forms of aggression here in America). Put them as possible, but unlikely: 3%
Defying the United States is something of a national pastime in Cuba, which still maintains hostile relations with its Northern neighbor. Snowden landing there would be a little ironic, given Cuba’s own history of squashing political dissent, but beggars can’t be choosers: 5%
Iceland was once thought to be WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s asylum destination. They are a populist country where Snowden could become a cause célèbre. Still, they could get pressure from within the E.U. to not take on Snowden. Assange himself was reportedly in contact with Icelandic officials two weeks ago, attempting to broker a deal to get Snowden asylum there. Iceland is a wild card here, but one that will probably fold eventually: 7%
On Monday morning, Ecuador seemed like the logical choice for Snowden, and it is likely they would grant him asylum if he can get there. But he has to get there. President Correa bowed to pressure from the U.S. and said that Snowden’s asylum request cannot be processed until he reaches the country. Still, that might be his best shot: 15%
The populist President of Bolivia Evo Morales would likely be happy to take on Snowden. Like Cuba, Bolivia is often energized by the idea of fighting back against U.S. oppression, and Snowden makes a good symbol of this. Morales even laid out the condition on which they would accept Snowden: "Bolivia is ready to accept people who disclose espionage if one can call it this way." With recent revelations about U.S. spying, Snowden has a good case: 25%.
The only reason Bolivia isn’t higher on the list is that Venezuela is a good bet to take Snowden for all the same reasons. Their President Nicolas Maduro was the hand-picked successor to Hugo Chavez, who famously railed against U.S. overreach, and Maduro himself accused the U.S. of infecting Chavez with the cancer that eventually killed him. As for Snowden, Maduro wouldn’t say just yet (Maduro said that he has not received the formal request), but seemed to indicate that Snowden would do well to explore that option. He told Reuters that Snowden "deserves the world's protection" from the United States. He added: "Why are they persecuting him? What has he done? Did he launch a missile and kill someone? Did he rig a bomb and kill someone? No. He is preventing war.” Snowden’s best option: 40%.
That still leaves 5%, because there is at least that chance that this story will throw another curveball and Snowden will end up in the U.S. or somewhere we could not have anticipated.