Snowden checked out of the Hong Kong hotel where he had been staying when he identified himself as the whistleblower that handed over information about the US government’s domestic spying program to The Washington Post and The Guardian. He is reportedly still in Chinese territory, where some residents have called him a “hero” for divulging the information, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
He’s sure US prosecutors will come after him, telling The Guardian, “You can't come up against the world's most powerful intelligence agencies and not accept the risk. If they want to get you, over time they will.”
So where is the man behind one of the most dramatic security leaks in recent history to go?
“I would strongly advise him to go to Latin America," Mr. Assange told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview this week. “Latin America has shown in the past 10 years that it is really pushing forward in human rights. There’s a long tradition of asylum.”
Assange also feels a connection with Snowden, calling him on Sky News, “a hero who has informed the public about one of the most serious events of the decade, which was the creeping formulation of a mass surveillance state.”
The WikiLeaks founder has a lot to thank Latin America for – specifically Ecuador. He famously took refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy almost a year ago after he was sought for questioning in relation to alleged sexual offenses in Sweden.
Latin America may have given Assange refuge. But in recent years, a handful of countries there have been more regularly associated with expelling US agencies and decrying the "imperialist power" to the north than leading the world in human rights.
And the violence that plagues the region is often associated with various human rights violations. Latin America and the Caribbean are home to eight of the 10 most dangerous countries in the world, based on homicide rates.
A drug war in Mexico has killed an estimated 70,000 people; its Central America neighbor, Honduras, is the world’s murder capital; and Brazil has been accused of numerous human rights violations in the run-up to the 2014 World Cup.
Meanwhile, leaders from Venezuela’s late President Hugo Chavez, to Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega, to the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, have aggressively opposed US policies.
Their opposition to US hegemony is not without reason: The US government has long inserted itself into Latin American affairs, at times with disastrous consequences.
But even Latin American countries that have railed against the US might not be Snowden’s best bet in an effort to avoid facing charges back home.
The Los Angeles Times reports that dozens of countries have no extradition agreement with the US, whereas most in Latin America do, some of which date back more than a century.
And even Venezuela, “Washington’s No. 1 enemy in Latin America,” might balk at giving Snowden a safe haven, the newspaper says. “Even if Caracas were to offer Snowden asylum now, any improvement in relations in the years to come could make that shelter a bargaining chip that Venezuelan authorities may have no qualms about cashing in.”