MANAGUA – The Nicaraguan government announced Tuesday that it has granted political asylum to former Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes, who is under investigation in his homeland for alleged corruption during his 2009-2014 term.
The grant of asylum includes Funes’ companion, Ada Michell Guzman Sigüenza; and his sons, Carlos Mauricio Funes Velasco, 34; Diego Roberto Funes Cañas, 25; and Mauricio Alejandro Funes Guzman, 2.
Officials extended the benefit based on the provision of the Nicaraguan Constitution “that assures asylum to victims of political persecution,” according to a notice published in the official gazette.
Foreign Minister Samuel Santos approved the asylum request on Sept. 2.
Funes sought refuge because he feared for “his life and physical integrity and that of his family” as a consequence of his political activism and affiliations, the Nicaraguan government said.
The Salvadoran Supreme Court ordered an investigation of Funes after concluding that he could not justify a $700,000 increase in his wealth while serving as president.
Funes spoke out on Aug. 23 to confirm his presence in Nicaragua, but denied he was seeking asylum in the neighboring country, as claimed the previous day by Salvadoran Attorney General Douglas Melendez.
Funes, the first president of El Salvador to come from the FMLN, the inheritors of the leftist guerrillas who battled the military in the 1980-1992 civil war, was not facing imminent arrest in his homeland.
The former president has described the investigation of his personal wealth as a political “show” unsupported by evidence.