Edward J. Snowden, the NSA whistleblower that came forward and confessed to leaking information regarding PRISM – a top-secret program that has direct access to Internet sites such as Google and Facebook – is now seeking asylum in Ecuador. Snowden’s decision to seek asylum in this particular Latin American country seems to stem from the fact that WikiLeaks has been assisting the 29-year-old.
According to reports by The New York Times, Snowden has been staying in Moscow and remaining out of sight as he awaits a flight out. With no direct flights from Moscow to Quito, Snowden will have to travel through Havana in order to get there. The next flight from Moscow to Havana is Thursday.
Snowden’s request to seek asylum from Ecuador brought to mind other controversial people who have found asylum in Latin America. Here are 6 other people who have fled to Latin American countries:
1. Asylum: Julian Assange
The Australian founder and editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks – an international online organization that publishes submissions of secret information from anonymous sources – was granted diplomatic asylum by Ecuador in June 2012. Assange is said to have sought asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden to face questioning over a sexual assault allegation.
2. Asylum: Assata Shakur
A member of the Black Liberation Army and aunt to deceased rapper Tupac, Shakur, sought asylum in Cuba after she was sentenced to life in prison and was later freed by a slew of friends who arrived at the prison armed. She has been living in Cuba since 1984. In May of this year, Shakur became the first woman to be added to the FBI’s most wanted terrorists list.
3. Asylum: Ronnie Biggs
Known for his role in the Great Train Robbery of 1963, the English fugitive escaped from prison in 1965 and sought asylum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1970. When news broke that Biggs was hiding in Brazil, the country did not extradite him because his girlfriend at the time was pregnant and Brazilian law did not allow for a parent of a Brazilian child to be extradited.
4. Asylum: Cesare Battisti
Italian former member of the Armed Proletarians for Communism, a terrorist group that committed acts of crime in Italy, had been sentenced to life for four homicides, which included two policemen. Battisti fled to Mexico and France where he became an author, and now lives as a free man in Brazil.
5. Asylum: Philip Agee
Agee was a CIA case officer and writer best known for detailing his experiences in the CIA in his 1975 book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary. In his book, the former CIA agent basically exposed all the alleged corrupt deeds the agency had committed against Latin American leftists. After fleeing the U.S. and being expelled from four European countries, Agee found asylum in Cuba.
6. Asylum: Robert Vesco
United States financier became a fugitive after he was alleged guilty of securities fraud. He immediately fled the U.S. during investigation to numerous Central American and Caribbean countries that did not have extradition laws. He eventually settled in Cuba where he died in 2007.