ABC cites at least one source who was familiar with the content of a phone call made a week ago by Kerry to Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elías Jaua only hours after Venezuela announced that it had granted asylum to Snowden.
During the phone call, Kerry reportedly made the following threats:
To ground any and all Venezuelan airplanes flying in American or NATO airspace upon any suspicion that Snowden may be on board, including the flights of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. “Immunity is for the president, not for the plane,” Kerry said.
To revoke US entry visas to Venezuelan citizens.
To bring criminal charges for drug trafficking, money laundering and other crimes against Venezuelan officials. The ABC source said that Kerry mentioned specific names of government officials against whom the US would press charges.
To immediately halt sales of US gas products to Venezuela. Venezuela purchases a half-million barrels of gasoline and 350,000 barrels of Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether, a gasoline additive, from the US each month.
On Friday, US State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf acknowledged that Kerry and Jaua spoke last Friday, but denied as “completely false” the claim that Kerry made any threats.
“The Secretary made no reference in his conversation with Foreign Minister Jaua as to what our response would be if Venezuela were to assist Mr. Snowden or receive him,” she said.
“Instead, Secretary Kerry conveyed to the Foreign Minister that Mr. Snowden is accused of serious criminal offenses and should be returned to the United States to face those charges if he were to come into Venezuelan jurisdiction.”
Harf then called into question her denial by issuing a threat of her own:
“Should Venezuela assist Mr. Snowden or receive him, we will consider what the appropriate response should be at that time.”