CARACAS, Venezuela - Presidents Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela said Friday they were willing to grant asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
Snowden has asked for asylum in several countries, including Nicaragua and Venezuela.
"We have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to the American Edward Snowden to protect him from the persecution being unleashed by the world's most powerful empire,'' Maduro said at the start of a military parade in the Venezuelan capital celebrating the 202nd anniversary of the South American country's declaration of independence.
Maduro said Snowden's only crime was to tell the truth.
Maduro said Snowden, who is wanted by the U.S. for leaking information about a number of secret U.S. espionage plans, could live in peace in the free country of (founding father Simon) Bolivar and (the late president Hugo) Chavez.''
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.
Maduro has repeatedly said that the fugitive leakster was being unfairly attacked by the U.S. government. Venezuela under Maduro and Chavez has been one of South America's most strident critics of U.S. policy.
Although the U.S. is the largest supplier of goods to Venezuela and the South American country's largest buyer of its crude, neither country has an ambassador in the other.
The offers came amid the ongoing flap about the rerouting of Bolivian President Evo Morales' plane in Europe earlier this week amid reports that Snowden might have been aboard.
Spain on Friday said it had been warned along with other European countries that Snowden, a former U.S. intelligence worker, was aboard the Bolivian presidential plane, an acknowledgement that the manhunt for the fugitive leaker had something to do with the plane's unexpected diversion to Austria.
It is unclear whether the United States, which has told its European allies that it wants Snowden back, warned Madrid about the Bolivian president's plane. U.S. officials will not detail their conversations with European countries, except to say that they have stated the U.S.'s general position that it wants Snowden back.
President Barack Obama has publicly displayed a relaxed attitude toward Snowden's movements, saying last month that he wouldn't be "scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker."
But the drama surrounding the flight of Bolivian President Evo Morales, whose plane was abruptly rerouted to Vienna after apparently being denied permission to fly over France, suggests that pressure is being applied behind the scenes.
Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo told Spanish National Television that "they told us that the information was clear, that he was inside."
He did not identify who "they" were and declined to say whether he had been in contact with the U.S. But he said that European countries' decisions were based on the tip. France has since sent a letter of apology to the Bolivian government.
Meanwhile, secret-spilling website WikiLeaks said that Snowden, who is still believed to be stuck in a Moscow airport's transit area, had put in asylum applications to six new countries.
The organization said in a message posted to Twitter on Friday that it wouldn't be identifying the countries involved "due to attempted U.S. interference."
A number of countries have already rejected asylum applications from Snowden.