CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – The presidents of Nicaragua and Venezuela offered Friday to grant asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden, one day after leftist South American leaders gathered to denounce the rerouting of Bolivian President Evo Morales’ plane over Europe amid reports that the American was aboard.
Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua made their offers during separate speeches in their home countries Friday afternoon. Snowden, who is being sought by the United States, has asked for asylum in numerous countries, including Nicaragua and Venezuela.
“As head of state, the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young American Edward Snowden so that he can live in the homeland” of independence leader Simon Bolivar and the late President Hugo Chavez without “persecution from the empire,” Maduro said, referring to the United States.
Chavez often engaged in similar defiance, criticizing U.S.-style capitalism and policies. In a 2006 speech to the U.N. General Assembly of world leaders, Chavez called President George W. Bush the devil, saying the podium reeked of sulfur after the U.S. president’s address. He also accused Washington of plotting against him, expelled several diplomats and drug-enforcement agents and threatened to stop sending oil to the U.S.
MOSCOW — Intrigue deepened on Monday over the whereabouts of Edward J. Snowden, the fugitive former National Security Agency contractor accused of espionage, when he did not leave Moscow on a planned flight to Havana, one day after Hong Kong frustrated his American pursuers by allowing him to fly out of the territory.
Mr. Snowden’s vacant seat on the Havana flight raised the possibility that the Russian government had detained him, either to consider the demands by the Obama administration to intercept him and return him to the United States or perhaps to question him for Russia’s own purposes.
The authorities in Hong Kong said Mr. Snowden boarded an Aeroflot flight to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport that arrived on Sunday afternoon. But he was never photographed in Hong Kong and has not been seen publicly or photographed since his reported arrival in Moscow. Arriving passengers on that flight, interviewed at the airport, said they could not confirm that he had been aboard.
The situation remained infuriating for American officials, who have charged Mr. Snowden with illegally disclosing classified documents about American surveillance programs.
MOSCOW — Edward J. Snowden, the fugitive former National Security Agency contractor wanted by the United States for leaking classified documents about global American surveillance, fled his Hong Kong hide-out for Moscow on Sunday aboard a commercial Russian jetliner, in what appeared to be the first step in an odyssey to seek political asylum in Ecuador.
In a day of frustrated scrambling by American officials who are seeking Mr. Snowden’s extradition — and had annulled his passport in attempts to foil any escape — he boarded an Aeroflot jetliner in Hong Kong that reached Moscow on Sunday afternoon. The Russian Foreign Ministry said Mr. Snowden was in a Moscow airport transit area, apparently awaiting a connection to another country.
Ecuador’s foreign minister said that Mr. Snowden had submitted a request for asylum, an assertion corroborated by WikiLeaks, the organization that discloses government secrets and has come to the assistance of Mr. Snowden. In a statement on its Web site, WikiLeaks said “he is bound for the Republic of Ecuador via a safe route for the purposes of asylum, and is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisors from WikiLeaks.”
The controller’s office launched the performance audit — which, as opposed to a fiscal audit, can go beyond dollars — through an email of March 21 to acting police Chief Regina McDonald. The email said preliminary objectives include “secondary employment and staffing.” The first meeting with Chief McDonald occurred Wednesday.
Other communications between top controller’s office officials and top police brass show that auditors launched a review of the police Premium Pay Account on Feb. 8 by emailing bureau personnel and finance manager Sandra J. Ganster. On Feb. 9, Ms. Ganster brought her concerns about the alleged diversion of funds meant for that account to public safety director Michael Huss, her attorney has said. The alleged misapplication of funds meant for the account last week became the centerpiece of the criminal case against former police Chief Nate Harper.
“It does appear that our [inquiry] is what prompted a whistle-blower to step forward,” Controller Michael Lamb said. “I think that the work that we’ve done has helped to unveil this scandal.”