POSTED: 2:33 p.m. HST, Jul 5, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 2:51 p.m. HST, Jul 5, 2013
MANAGUA, Nicaragua >> Presidents Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela said today they were willing to grant asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
Snowden has asked for asylum in several 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 immediately 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." 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.
Snowden, 29, ignited a national firestorm of debate last month when he divulged the existence of NSA anti-terrorism programs, including that the federal agency gathers records of millions of U.S. phone calls and also has access to Internet usage data from the top U.S. Internet companies. Snowden gave the information to The Guardian newspaper of London and the Washington Post.
Snowden was a technical assistant for the Central Intelligence Agency but more recently worked for the NSA as a contractor with Booz Allen Hamilton on Oahu. The Guardian reported that he copied some of documents he disclosed while working in Hawaii
Snowden fled his home on Eleu Street in Waipahu in May and went into hiding in Hong Kong. After the Guardian and Post broke the story, he fled to Russia.
Booz Allen confirmed that Snowden worked for the firm for fewer than three months with a team in Hawaii. The offices are at 733 Bishop St. After the story broke, the company said he was no longer employed by the company.