(SUCRE, Bolivia) — Bolivia has joined the ranks of South American countries offering refuge to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
Bolivian President Evo Morales said Saturday that Snowden was welcome in his country.
Morales said he was making the offer as a protest against the United States and European nations he accused of blocking his flight home from a Moscow summit because of suspicions that Snowden might have been aboard his plane.
Federal authorities last month filed espionage charges against Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor accused of disclosing secret anti-terrorism programs run by the U.S. government.
Bolivia is the third country to offer Snowden asylum. Both Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega also extended the offer to Snowden on Friday.
“I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the young American Edward Snowden,” Maduro said Friday evening, adding that he was doing so, “in the name of the dignity of Latin America.”
“He can come and live here, away from the persecution of American imperialism,” Maduro said.
Just an hour earlier, Nicaragua had offered what appeared to be conditional asylum.
“If the circumstances permit it, we would gladly receive Snowden here and would grant him asylum here,” Ortega said, though he did not elaborate on what those circumstances would be.
It is unclear whether Morales’ offer was in response to a formal petition for asylum that Snowden had submitted.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Ralph Ellis and Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN
Jim Acosta, Elise Labott, Nicole Gaouette, Kevin Liptak and Allie Malloy, CNN Newswire