MANAGUA, Nicaragua — The presidents of Nicaragua and Venezuela offered Friday to grant asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden, one day after leftist South American leaders gathered to denounce the rerouting of Bolivian President Evo Morales' plane over Europe amid reports that the American was aboard.
Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela made their offers during separate speeches in their home countries Friday afternoon. Snowden has asked for asylum in numerous countries, including Nicaragua and Venezuela.
"As head of state, the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young American Edward Snowden so that he can live (without) … persecution from the empire," Maduro said, referring to the United States. He made the offer during a speech marking the anniversary of Venezuela's independence. It was not clear if there were any conditions to Venezuela's offer.
In Nicaragua, Ortega said he was willing to make the same offer "if circumstances allow it." He didn't say what the circumstances would be when he spoke during a speech in Managua.
He said that the Nicaraguan Embassy in Moscow had received Snowden's application for asylum and that it was 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.
The offers came following a flap about the rerouting of Evo Morales' plane in Europe on Tuesday amid reports that Snowden might have been aboard when it left Moscow.
Meanwhile, the antisecrecy website WikiLeaks said Friday that Snowden, who is still believed to be stuck in a Moscow airport's transit area, had put in asylum applications to six new countries. He had already sought asylum from more than 20 countries, many of which turned him down. WikiLeaks said in a message posted to Twitter that it wouldn't identify the six countries.