Ecuador: Snowden’s fate in hands of Russia

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa gestures during an interview with Reuters in Portoviejo June 30, 2013. REUTERS/Guillermo Granja
Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa gestures during an interview with Reuters in Portoviejo June 30, 2013. REUTERS/Guillermo Granja

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said on Sunday the fate of former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden is in the hands of the authorities in Russia, where he is holed up in hope of obtaining asylum in the South American nation.

Correa said his government cannot begin considering asylum for Snowden, wanted by Washington for leaking confidential information about a surveillance program, until he reaches Ecuador or an Ecuadorean embassy.

The 30-year-old former National Security Agency contractor has not been able to leave the Moscow international airport.

“It’s up to the Russian authorities if he can leave the Moscow airport for an Ecuadorean embassy,” Correa said in an interview with Reuters in the coastal city of Portoviejo.

“He will be treated just like any other citizen even though he does not have a passport. We are clear that this is a special situation.”

Correa’s comments provide further confirmation Ecuador is unlikely to help Snowden escape his current limbo. His passport has been revoked and countries around the world are under pressure not to let him continue his journey.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has rejected U.S. calls to expel Snowden to the United States and says Snowden should choose a destination and leave the Moscow airport as soon as possible.

A presidential spokesman said the issue was not on Putin’s agenda and suggested it was being handled by Russia’s domestic intelligence agency.

The asylum request has helped Correa boost his profile within the region and could help him take on the mantle of late Venezuelan socialist leader Hugo Chavez, who for more than a decade was Latin America’s loudest critic of Washington.

“This may be the largest espionage case in this history of humanity,” Correa said.

Correa, who has repeatedly confronted the United States since first being elected in 2006, said on Saturday he had a “cordial” phone conversation with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who asked that Ecuador not grant Snowden asylum.

Correa said he would take into account the opinion of the U.S. government when making the decision.

BACKING FOR ASSANGE

Correa on Sunday sent his regards to Snowden, whom he has thanked for revealing information about espionage efforts by the United States that go beyond its own borders.

“Keep your spirits up and be brave,” Correa said. “You have to know how to assume your responsibilities, but if you acted in good conscience then you can be at peace with yourself.”

The fallout over U.S. spying operations, the revelation of which has been a major embarrassment for U.S. President Barack Obama, appeared to expand on Sunday as the European Union confronted Washington on reports of spying by the National Security Agency.

Ecuador said on Thursday it was pulling out of a U.S. trade benefits program in protest of pressure from the United States for having considered Snowden’s asylum request.

“Ecuador will not be pressured or blackmailed by anyone,” Correa said.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, granted asylum last year in Ecuador’s London embassy, has not lost the country’s support despite apparently contributing to confusion over a travel document Ecuador’s government issued to Snowden, Correa said.

“In these crises when there is need to respond with urgency, it’s also possible to make mistakes. But Mr. Assange continues to enjoy our support, respect and appreciation,” he said.

Ecuador’s London consulate issued Snowden an unauthorized safe-passage document, potentially as a result of communication with Assange, Correa said on Saturday.

Assange had said that Snowden received refugee papers from the Ecuadorean government to secure safe passage as he fled Hong Kong for Russia, which Correa’s government had originally denied.

Correa’s critics have in recent days accused him of letting Assange take charge of crucial foreign policy matters.

Assange, who is wanted in Sweden for questioning on sexual assault allegations, has not been able to leave the London embassy because Britain will not give him safe passage.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Ex-Bitcoin official to plead guilty to Silk Road…

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of…

International

China's army changes tactics to prepare for war…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China will spur military innovation and called on the army to create a new strategy for "information warfare" as…

National

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

Gossip

Joan Rivers on life support: Report

TMZ reports that comedian Joan Rivers has been placed on life support, "completely reliant on machines to stay alive." Rivers has been hospitalized since she…

Movies

What's new on Netflix in September

September has a supernatural theme for Netflix. UFO "documentaries" and the survivalist reality series "Doomsday Preppers" are among the new series coming to the online…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Wellbeing

VIDEO: Still not wearing sunscreen? You will after…

Sunscreen is possibly the most often repeated - and ignored - piece of skincare advice. But Thomas Leveritt took a different tactic. With a short…

Food

Twitter used to track down sources of food…

When Chicago health officials saw Twitter users complaining about local food poisoning episodes, they reached out on Twitter to those users and often ended up…

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…