Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua grants asylum to El Salvador's Mauricio Funes

Former President of El Salvador Mauricio Funes, photographed while in office in February 2014. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mauricio Funes moved to Nicaragua after prosecutors began their case against him

The government of Nicaragua has granted asylum to a former president of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes.

Mr Funes is facing a civil action in El Salvador in connection with funds discovered in his bank accounts, allegedly obtained illegally.

He is also facing a related investigation into possible political corruption during his time in office.

The former president says he is innocent and protecting himself from political persecution.

The Nicaraguan authorities made the announcement in an official government publication, the Daily Gazette, saying Mr Funes' life was in danger. The central American nation also granted asylum to his partner and three of his children.

Mr Funes' application for asylum was dated 1 September, coinciding with an order for the release of a list of Mr Funes' government-funded trips abroad while in office.

Mr Funes, a former journalist, moved to Nicaragua three months ago, after prosecutors began their case against him. They say he has not explained the origin of more than $700,000 (£521,350) of his income.

Following the announcement of his asylum, he posted a declaration of his innocence to his Twitter and Facebook accounts.

He said he had spent three months working in the Nicaraguan capital, Managua, before he decided to apply for asylum because of political persecution. He said there were plans by the "extreme right" to attack him.

"I have not given up fighting the judicial process or proving my innocence," he wrote.

Mr Funes was president from 2009 to 2014, as a member of the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN).

During his time in office, he accused another former president, Francisco Flores, of corruption. Flores died in January 2016 before standing trial.

The FMLN, formed from a number of rebel factions in the country's civil war, is one of the two main political parties in El Salvador.

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