July 30, 2019 / 6:55 PM / 4 months ago

Nicaragua grants citizenship to embattled ex-Salvadoran president

FILE PHOTO: Former president of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes arrives at the attorney general office in San Salvador February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Former Salvadoran president Mauricio Funes has been granted Nicaraguan citizenship, according to a decree published on Tuesday in the Nicaraguan government registry, likely hobbling El Salvador’s efforts to bring him home to face charges of embezzlement and money laundering.

The Nicaraguan constitution holds that no citizen may be extradited.

Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele, who began his term in June, vowed to bring Funes back to the country within his first 90 days in office. Bukele’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Funes, who governed El Salvador between 2009 and 2014, is accused of embezzlement and money laundering involving $351 million, Salvadoran prosecutors have said.

The former president, a leftist who has lived in Nicaragua since 2016, has said he is a victim of political attacks orchestrated by business interests and conservatives. His wife and two of the pair’s children were also granted Nicaraguan citizenship, according to the government publication.

Reporting by Ismael Lopez; additional reporting by Nelson Renteria; writing by Julia Love; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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