Snowden could win Nicaragua asylum if circumstances permit: Ortega

MANAGUA Fri Jul 5, 2013 8:03pm EDT

Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega speaks during the presentation of credentials from Mexico's Ambassador to Nicaragua Juan Rodrigo Labardini at the La Casa de los Pueblos in Managua February 8, 2013. REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas

Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega speaks during the presentation of credentials from Mexico's Ambassador to Nicaragua Juan Rodrigo Labardini at the La Casa de los Pueblos in Managua February 8, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Oswaldo Rivas

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MANAGUA (Reuters) - Nicaragua has received an asylum request from fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden and could accept the bid "if circumstances permit," President Daniel Ortega said on Friday.

"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.

Ortega, an ally of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, did not elaborate on the conditions that would allow him to offer asylum to Snowden, who has been at the eye of a diplomatic storm since leaking high-level U.S. intelligence data last month.

Options have been narrowing for Snowden - believed to be staying in a transit area at a Moscow airport - as he seeks a country to shelter him from U.S. espionage charges.

A one-time Cold War adversary of the United States, Ortega belongs to a bloc of leftist leaders in Latin America that have frequently taken up antagonistic positions with Washington.

Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in the Americas, has benefited greatly from financial support from Venezuela, and Ortega was a staunch ally of late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.

Chavez's successor Maduro voiced sympathy with Snowden and described him as a champion of human rights. That suggested Venezuela may help Snowden, who is stranded in Moscow after flying there from Hong Kong on June 23, to find a safe haven.

Snowden's bid for Icelandic citizenship hit an impasse earlier on Friday when the country's parliament voted not to debate it before the summer recess.

Afterwards, WikiLeaks announced that Snowden had applied to another six countries for asylum, adding to a list of more than a dozen countries which he has already asked for protection.

The anti-secrecy organization, which has been supporting Snowden's efforts to find a safe haven since his exit from Hong Kong 12 days ago, said on Twitter it could not reveal the names the countries due to "attempted U.S. interference".

(Reporting by Ivan Castro; Editing by Philip Barbara)

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Comments (3)
JesseJames wrote:
If the government is so worried about secrecy, why not prosecute him in absentia?

The US gov’t might be better off if this guy did find asylum somewhere because it would be an even bigger media mob circus if he were to be present to stand trial in the US.

I’m willing to bet that at least many if not most of the lawyers are hoping he is extradited to the US for the above obvious reason.

I say prosecute him in absentia, and while their at it, they should prosecute Assange and Adam Gadahn in absentia too.

Jul 05, 2013 8:35pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
XianSheng wrote:
Whether you believe Snowden is a hero or a villain depends on your political leaning. But one thing is for sure: He’s a naive fool. Even if his intention was altruistic, but he caused a lot more harm both to the US and to himself than he could have ever imagined. What did he think would happen? Did he think that everyone would applaud his “bravery” and then he’d be welcomed by our enemies and be left alone to live out a life of peace there? He’s one damn fool.

Jul 05, 2013 12:21am EDT  --  Report as abuse
senorpescado wrote:
Viva Nicaragua, good waves, nice people, great cleaner food veggies fruits, Ortega has good weed and not a bad guitar player, better than cold ass Iceland, or arrogant France, and who would want to live in Russia?

Jul 06, 2013 1:52am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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