President of Ecuador Rafael Correa says he has spoken with US Vice President Joe Biden about Edward Snowden, and that the American official asked Ecuador to reject the fugitive intelligence leaker’s asylum request.
According to Correa, the conversation took place on Friday and Biden “passed on a polite request from the United States to reject the request”.
Snowden, currently holed up at a Moscow airport transit area after fleeing from Hong Kong, has requested asylum in Ecuador.
Ecuador has said it is willing to consider the petition but only when Snowden is physically in the South American country.
Ecuador has granted refuge to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at its embassy in London.
Correa made his remarks on the Snowden case in a weekly address to the people of Ecuador, this time from the coastal town of Aromo.
He said the internet and phone surveillance programs that the former National Security Agency subcontractor revealed amount to the biggest espionage case in history.
What the United States needs to do, Correa said, is explain those once secret programs rather than focus on catching Snowden and “tear apart a president, government or country that dares to say it will process an asylum request if it receives one”.
Reports yesterday said Ecuador has pulled out of a trade pact with the United States, as it claims the pact had become an instrument of “blackmail” for Washington as Ecuador considers whistleblower Edward Snowden’s asylum request.
“Would he be allowed to arrive on Ecuadorean territory? This is something that, in principle, we haven’t considered,” President Rafael Correa told a news conference on Thursday.
“We would probably examine it, but for now he is in Russia”.