Edward Snowden Stuck in Moscow as Ecuador's President Questions Asylum

In an interview with the Associated Press on Sunday, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa cast some doubts on Edward Snowden's reported plans to seek asylum in his country, saying the Ecuadorean consul in London made a “serious error” when it issued a letter of safe passage for Snowden.

Correa also said the NSA whistleblower's request for asylum will only be "analyze[d]" if Snowden can reach Ecuador or an Ecuadorean Embassy, which seems unlikely considering that Snowden is trapped indefinitely in the Moscow international airport and, according to Correa, "under the care of Russian authorities."

"This is the decision of Russian authorities," Correa told the AP during a visit to this Pacific coast city. "He doesn't have a passport. I don't know the Russian laws, I don't know if he can leave the airport, but I understand that he can't. At this moment he's under the care of the Russian authorities. If he arrives at an Ecuadorean Embassy we'll analyze his request for asylum."

Russian authorities denied Correa's claims that Snowden was in Russia and under their control, instead insisting that, since he hasn't passed customs, Snowden remains in the airport's international transit zone, which isn't officially part of Russia.

Correa also claimed that, despite widespread reports, he had no idea that Snowden intended to seek asylum in Ecuador when Snowden left Hong Kong for Moscow last week.

Correa's apparent change of heart comes just two days after a phone conversation between Correa and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

"I greatly appreciated the call," [Correa] said, contrasting it with threats made by a small group of U.S. senators to revoke Ecuadorean trade privileges. "When I received the call from Vice President Biden, which was with great cordiality and a different vision, we really welcomed it a lot."

"If [Snowden] really could have broken North American laws, I am very respectful of other countries and their laws and I believe that someone who breaks the law must assume his responsibilities," Correa said. "But we also believe in human rights and due process."

None of this is especially good news for Snowden, who has been presumably living in the Moscow airport for over a week now as he faces charges of espionage from the US government. Despite his isolation and uncertain future, Snowden's leaks are still making news; earlier today, Der Spiegel published Snowden-leaked information about the NSA's history of eavesdropping on the European Union.

[Image via AP]

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