Venezuela, Nicaragua willing to grant Snowden asylum

The leaders of Venezuela and Nicaragua said late Friday that they would be willing to grant asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, according to reports.

“#BREAKING Nicaragua's president says he's willing to give Edward #Snowden asylum,” Agence France-Presse tweeted.

Reuters reported that Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said during a speech in Managua that he could accept the bid "if circumstances permit."

"As head of state and government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, I have decided to offer U.S. humanitarian asylum to young Snowden," President Nicolas Maduro said in Caracas, according to Venezuela's state news agency, AVN.

Maduro made the offer to Snowden to "protect from persecution unleashed the most powerful empire in the world, against a young man who has done is tell the truth," AVN reported.

Earlier Friday, WikiLeaks, the group that is helping the former contractor, tweeted that Snowden had applied for asylum in six additional countries. WikiLeaks originally said Snowden had applied for asylum in 21 countries.

WikiLeaks said it would not name the new countries where Snowden requested asylum “due to attempted U.S. interference.”

On Tuesday, the plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales was forced to land in Austria and was searched. The 12-hour delay followed rumors that the plane might be carrying Snowden. Morales was traveling back to Bolivia from Moscow, and Bolivia was viewed as one of the countries that might be willing to grant Snowden’s asylum request.

Some of the United States' closest allies in Latin America lashed out at the U.S. after that incident.

Snowden’s options for leaving the transit zone in a Moscow airport, where he has allegedly been stuck since traveling to Russia from Hong Kong last month, had dwindled, as most countries either rejected the asylum request or said Snowden would have to be on their soil to make the request.

--This report was first published at 7:34 p.m. and last updated at 8:25 p.m.