Caracas, July 5th 2013 

Maduro makes the announcement on Venezuelan Independence day'As head of state and of government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the US youth Edward Snowden,' President Nicolás Maduro announced today at Caracas’ military academy at the start of a parade for Venezuela’s Day of Independence.

'To be independent, we must feel it,' he said. 'We must exercise our independence and sovereignty. Our discourses are meaningless if they aren’t exercised with force at the national level. I announce to the friendly governments of the world that we have decided to offer this statute of international humanitarian law to protect the young Snowden from the persecution that has been unleashed from the most powerful empire in the world,the United States,' he said.

'Let’s ask ourselves: who violated international law?' he continued. 'A young man who decided, in an act of rebellion, to tell the truth of the espionage of the United States against the world? Or the government of the United States, the power of the imperialist elites, who spied on it?'

A former employee of the U.S.’ National Security Agency (NSA), Snowden entered the world stage last month after leaking various top-secret documents to British newspaper The Guardian, revealing details of mass surveillance programs carried out by the U.S. government. Snowden fled to Hong Kong, and later to Russia, where he is suspected to still be in the transit area of Moscow’s International Airport.

Upon leaving the airport following a forum in Moscow, Bolivian President Evo Morales’ plane was prevented from entering the airspace of France, Spain, Italy, and Portugal due to suspicions that Snowden was on board. After landing in Austria for refueling, the plane was searched by authorities, who confirmed that the accusations were false.

At an emergency meeting held yesterday in Bolivia, members of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) issued a joint statement calling for an explanation from the European countries 'to restore trusting relationships and move forward on any other issue.'

Venezuela had been speculated as a possible destination for Snowden after Maduro commented that the whistleblower 'deserved humanitarian protection' earlier last week.