CARACAS, Venezuela – Nicolás Maduro, the president of Venezuela announced on Friday that he has decided to offer political asylum to former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
“I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young American, Edward Snowden, so that in the fatherland of (Simón) Bolívar and (Hugo) Chávez, he can come and live away from the imperial North American persecution,” Maduro told a televised parade marking Venezuela’s independence day.
This revelation was reported by The Guardian, who also said Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega has received a request for asylum that is under consideration.
“We are an open country, respectful of the right of asylum, and it’s clear that if circumstances permit, we would gladly receive Snowden and give him asylum in Nicaragua,” Ortega said during a speech in the Nicaraguan capital, Managua.
At the moment Snowden is believed to still be in the transit area of a Moscow international airport.
Ortega is a political ally of Maduro, whose country has given extensive financial support to Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in the region. Ortega was closely aligned with the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.
Chavez’s successor Maduro has expressed sympathy with Snowden, describing him as a champion of human rights. Maduro suggested Venezuela may help Snowden, who has been stranded in Moscow since flying there from Hong Kong on June 23 in search of a safe haven.
Snowden’s options narrowed on Friday when Iceland’s parliament voted not to address the issue prior to their summer recess.
This was followed by WikiLeaks announcement that Snowden had applied to another six countries for asylum, adding to a list of more than a dozen countries he has already asked for protection.
WikiLeaks, which has been supporting Snowden’s efforts to find a safe haven since leaving Hong Kong, said on Twitter it could not reveal the names of the countries due to “attempted US interference”.