Presidents Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela said Friday they were willing to grant asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden. The NSA whistleblower has asked for asylum in several countries, including Nicaragua and Venezuela.
”We have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the American Edward Snowden to protect him from the persecution being unleashed by the world's most powerful empire,'' Maduro said at the start of a military parade in the Venezuelan capital celebrating the 202nd anniversary of the South American country's declaration of independence.
Maduro said Snowden's only crime was to tell the truth.
Maduro said Snowden, who is wanted by the U.S. for leaking information about a number of secret U.S. espionage plans, could live in peace in the free country of (founding father Simon) Bolivar and (the late president Hugo) Chavez.''
In Nicaragua, Ortega said he was willing to make the same offer if circumstances allow it. Ortega didn't say what the right circumstances would be when he spoke during a speech in Managua.
He said the Nicaraguan embassy in Moscow received Snowden's application for asylum and that it is studying the request.
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, Ortega said.
Maduro has repeatedly said that the fugitive leakster was being unfairly attacked by the U.S. government.
Although the U.S. is the largest supplier of goods to Venezuela and the South American country's largest buyer of its crude, neither country has an ambassador in the other.
The offers came amid the ongoing flap about the rerouting of Bolivian President Evo Morales' plane in Europe earlier this week amid reports that Snowden might have been aboard.
But the drama surrounding the flight of Bolivian President Evo Morales, whose plane was abruptly rerouted to Vienna after apparently being denied permission to fly over France, suggests that pressure is being applied behind the scenes.