Nicaragua reveals details of asylum request from Snowden

MANAGUA (AFP) - Nicaragua late on Saturday revealed details from United States fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden's letter requesting asylum, in which the former intelligence contractor said it is unlikely he would receive a fair trial in the United States.

"I, Edward Snowden, citizen of the United States, am writing to seek asylum in the Republic of Nicaragua because of the risk of being persecuted by the (US) government and its agents" for revealing the existence of a vast US surveillance programme, he wrote, according to the Spanish language text of the letter to President Daniel Ortega.

"Under the circumstances, it is unlikely that I would receive a fair trial or appropriate treatment before trial" in which, he added, he would "face the possibility of life in prison or death".

Nicaragua is one of three Latin American countries in recent days to offer possible asylum to Snowden, who remains stranded in a Moscow airport.

In a speech on Friday, Mr Ortega said: "We are open, respectful of the right to asylum, and it is clear that if circumstances permit it, we would receive Snowden with pleasure and give him asylum here in Nicaragua."

The 30-year-old former National Security Agency contractor has received more support from leftist governments in Latin America, with the leaders of Venezuela and Bolivia saying they would be willing to consider giving him sanctuary.

But it remains unclear how exactly Snowden could reach another nation from the transit zone of Russia's sprawling Sheremetyevo international airport.