Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen says NSA leaker getting asylum in Venezuela, Nicaragua is 'ironic'

Nicaragua, Venezuela offer Edward Snowden asylum

By Jennifer Jacobs - Producer

PEMROKE PARK, Fla. - Edward Snowden has applied for political asylum in 20 different countries. On Friday, Venezuela and Nicaragua granted his requests.

"We have the sovereign right to help a person who felt remorse after finding out how the United States was using technology to spy on the whole world, and especially its European allies," said Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.

Venezuela held a ceremony Friday to celebrate the nation's independence. During the ceremony, President Nicolas Maduro told the crowd, in part: "I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young American Edward Snowden in the homeland of Bolivar and Chavez. And, he can come and live here, away from the persecution of American imperialism. They do not have any morals, they are asking to extradite this young man, but the only thing he has done is revealed the illegality of how the Pentagon, CIA and the power of the United States work. As chief of state, I refuse any solicitation."

Saturday morning, Local 10's Tamika Bickham spoke with U.S. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen about the approval.

"I'm not surprised that Nicaragua and Venezuela have offered asylum because they are anti-democratic countries; they are anti-U.S. They're offering asylum to someone who stands for press freedom, so he says, stands for internet freedom, yet he's seeking asylum in countries that are the antithesis of press freedom or internet freedom. It's quite an irony," she said. "He (Chavez) shuts down TV stations, radio stations, and newspapers who criticize his government," she said. "So there goes the 'savior of the press,' going to very repressive countries."

Florida's congresswoman also discussed what Snowden's asylum would mean in terms of our foreign policy with Venezuela and Ecuador.

"We've never had the best of relationships, especially with Venezuela. They've kicked out U.S. ambassadors, kicked out our drug enforcement agents. I think this is just a way for the president, or so-called president, who did not win legitimately, to look like he's just as tough and just as fiery and over the borders as Chavez was, and it's a way to distract from his own problems."

Ros-Lehtinen reiterated President Obama's policy of not "scrambling jets to try to get a 29-year-old hacker."

Snowden previously worked at the National Security Agency. In early June, he was named as the agent who leaked top-secret information on the U.S. government's surveillance program. He fled to China, but it is now believed to be hiding out in an airport terminal in Russia.

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) represents District 27 and sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

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