International Herald Tribune, France

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Fear of Vladivostok Escape for Snowden Drives U.S. Threats Against Venezuela (ABC, Spain)


"The fear in Washington is that Snowden could take advantage of his temporary asylum in Russia to leave the airport in Moscow and find refuge in the Venezuela Embassy in the Russian capital, or travel to another part of Russia from which his flight to Caracas would be much more feasible. If Snowden left from Vladivostok, a Russian city on the Pacific coast, he could make just one stopover in Nicaragua, therefore avoiding having to overfly other countries."


By Emili J. Blasco



Translated By Rachael Bradley


July 23, 2013


Spain - ABC - Original Article (Spanish)

Bolivia President Evo Morales after his plane, outbound from Russia, was forced to land in Vienna. A number of countries refused to allow it to fly through their air space when suspicions arouse that Edward Snowden might be on board. Now, Secretary of State John Kerry has told Venezuela President Nicolas Madure that if he personally collected Snowden, such events might not be repeated - but that the consequences for Venezuela would be dire.

RUSSIA TODAY, RUSSIA: Amid Snowden dispute, U.S. denies Russian requests to extradite criminals, July 22, 00:02:59 RealVideo

WASHINGTON: The United States has already begun to implement measures to pressure Venezuela to prevent it from sheltering former U.S. intelligence employee Edward Snowden. Last week, Washington proceeded to revoke U.S. entry visas of Venezuelan government officials and businessmen associated with deceased President Hugo Chavez. Furthermore, in a telephone conversation, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry advised Venezuela Foreign Minister Elias Jaua of other measures the U.S. could impose if Venezuelan asylum for Snowden goes ahead, such as the suspension of gasoline and oil derivative sales to the Caribbean country, which are vital to maintain the day-to-day life of the country.


Kerry phoned Jaua on July 18, just hours after Snowden issued a public statement announcing that he had accepted the asylum offer from Venezuela, although he alluded to his incapacity at the moment to travel to there. According to sources familiar with the conversation, using tough language, Kerry pressed Jaua about the extreme importance the U.S. places on the matter and warned that any Venezuelan aircraft suspected of carrying Snowden would be prevented from flying over American airspace or the airspace of any NATO country.


After the diplomatic crisis generated by the events involving Bolivia President Evo Morales' aircraft, Kerry let it be understood that the same course of events would not be repeated if Snowden traveled on the presidential plane of Nicolas Maduro, but that Maduro would have to collect Snowden personally. "Immunity is not for the plane, but for the president," Kerry said, according to sources.


The tone of the conversation was very different to the jovial June meeting that took place between the two politicians at the General Assembly of the Organization of American States in Guatemala, when it appeared that relations between the two countries were thawing and might move toward an exchange of ambassadors. An open conflict between Washington and Caracas would freeze eventual U.S. recognition of Maduro's election victory.


Pressure Methods


The U.S. government began revoking the visas for senior Venezuela government officials and businessmen who conduct business with the executive since at least last Thursday, as some began receiving notices from the U.S. Embassy in Caracas. The measure, which does not affect short term visas that are most commonly used by Venezuelan tourists, seeks to ensure that businessmen and politicians affected pressure President Maduro to drop his offer to assist the U.S. fugitive.

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The United States has also threatened to stop shipments of gasoline and refined petroleum products to Venezuela. Although the country is a major producer and exporter of petroleum products to the U.S., it requires them to be refined or manufactured elsewhere. Therefore, on a monthly basis, Venezuela buys 500,000 barrels of gasoline from the United States and another half a million barrels of "bunker fuel" destined for power plants. It also requires a further 350,000 barrels of MTBE [Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether], an additive needed to boost the octane of gasoline, which is required for fueling the Venezuela fleet.


As further measures that could be taken, our sources also mentioned the realization of indictments against certain pro-Chavez leaders that Washington has been preparing for some time, for involvement in drug trafficking, money laundering, and other criminal behavior. In his conversation with Jaua, Kerry would have mentioned specific names.


The fear in Washington is that Snowden could take advantage of his temporary asylum in Russia to leave the airport in Moscow and find refuge in the Venezuela Embassy in the Russian capital, or travel to another part of Russia from which his flight to Caracas would be much more feasible. For example, if Snowden left from Vladivostok, a Russian city on the Pacific coast, he could make just one stopover in Nicaragua, therefore avoiding having to overfly other countries.



However, such an itinerary would only be possible in Maduro's presidential plane, given that the fleet of aircraft owned by PDVA, the country's state-owned oil company, are smaller (DC Falcon 9000s, similar to the presidential plane of Evo Morales). Only an aircraft with a tank the size of Venezuela's Air Force One, a Boeing 707, could cover such a distance without having to refuel. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that the military would be willing to enter into such a direct confrontation with Washington.


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The Hankyoreh, South Korea: What Hugo Chavez Would Say about U.S. Surveillance
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Guardian, U.K.: The NSA's Indiscriminate Mass Spying on Brazilians
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Posted By Worldmeets.US July 23, 2013, 3:59am