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Fugitive Salvadoran Former President Given Nicaragua Citizenship

FILE - El Salvador's President Mauricio Funes stands in the National Assembly before speaking to commemorate the anniversary of his third year in office in San Salvador, El Salvador, June 1, 2012.

Nicaragua granted citizenship Tuesday to Salvadoran ex-President Mauricio Funes, who has been in the country under political asylum since 2016 and is wanted back home on allegations of illicit enrichment and embezzlement.

The decision by President Daniel Ortega's government, which took legal effect with its publication in the official Gazette, also made Funes' wife and two sons citizens.

The move would block current Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele from bringing Funes and his family before that country's justice system, as Nicaragua's constitution prohibits extradition of Nicaraguan nationals.

Funes tweeted an image of that constitutional article, saying: "Not today, nor in the first 100 days of [Bukele's] government, nor in years will extradition be possible."

Bukele's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Funes, El Salvador's president from 2009 to 2014, faces four arrest warrants for alleged corruption and the purported diversion of $351 million in state money. He denies the allegations.

The certification of Nicaraguan citizenship was signed by immigration director-general Juan Emilio Rivas Benitez, who said Funes "has fulfilled the requirements and formalities established by Law to acquire Nicaraguan nationality," taking into account his continued presence in national territory and being a permanent resident of the country.

Rivas added that Funes immediately enjoys all rights, prerogatives and responsibilities established by Nicaragua's constitution.