PORTOVIEJO — Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said yesterday the fate of former US 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 His passport has been revoked and countries around the world are under pressure not to let him continue his journey.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 US 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. (Reuters)