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25 June 2013, Gateway House

Badi Soch: The Latin American choice for Snowden

This daily column includes Gateway House’s Badi Soch – big thought – of the day’s foreign policy events. Today’s focus is on how Latin America is a natural choice to seek asylum for the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

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The whereabouts of 30-year-old Edward Snowden, the whistleblower of the U.S.’s mass surveillance program (PRISM) now on the run from U.S. federal proscecutors, remain unclear but sources claim he is safe and sound somewhere in Latin America – either in Venezuela, Ecuador, or en route to Cuba.

Snowden’s decision to seek asylum there is not unusual. Latin American countries (including their embassies abroad) are well-known for providing asylum, especially given the region’s record of coup d’états and revolutions in the 20th century. Hence Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange’s holing up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Also, the Latin Americans understand asylum laws well and regard them as sacrosanct, says Jorge Heine, a former Chilean diplomat, because “Much of the legal doctrine on the right of asylum has been developed by Latin American jurists.”

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