Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa said, on Monday, that Edward Snowden's asylum was not his country's responsibility, days after it was reported that Snowden departed Hong Kong on June 23 with the help of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who said he arranged special refugee travel documents from the South American nation.
“Are we responsible for getting him to Ecuador? It’s not logical. The country that has to give him a safe conduct document is Russia,” Correa said, in an interview with the Guardian, on Monday, stating that it was not his government’s intention to facilitate Snowden’s flight from Hong Kong to Moscow with a temporary travel pass, adding that “it was a mistake on our part.”
Correa’s assertion, disavowing Snowden, coincided with a statement from Snowden on Monday night from Moscow, criticizing U.S. President Barack Obama for pressuring nations to deny his asylum applications, although Obama had initially said that Washington would not be involved in any diplomatic “wheeling and dealing” over the case.
Snowden's statement refers to a phone conversation between Correa and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday, during which Biden asked Correa not to grant refuge to Snowden.
Biden, who initiated the phone call, “communicated a very courteous request from the United States that we reject the (asylum) request,” Correa said in a local television broadcast, praising Biden's courteous manners in contrast to “brats” in the U.S. Congress who had threatened to withdraw trade benefits over the Snowden case.
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“The Obama administration has now adopted the strategy of using citizenship as a weapon,” Snowden said in the statement. “Although I am convicted of nothing, it has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.”
Speaking about the prospects of Snowden making it to Ecuador, Correa said: “Mr Snowden’s situation is very complicated, but in this moment he is in Russian territory and these are decisions for the Russian authorities.”
When asked whether Correa would like to meet him, the president said: “Not particularly. He's a very complicated person. Strictly speaking, Mr Snowden spied for some time.”
Meanwhile, WikiLeaks published a list of nations, where Snowden, with the help of WikiLeaks’ legal advisor Sarah Harrison, has applied for asylum.
Apart from Ecuador and Iceland, where Snowden initially sought asylum, several nations across Europe, Asia and South and Central America, were among the list of nations, including Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Switzerland and Venezuela.
Snowden reportedly remains stuck in the transit lounge at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, where he is free to live indefinitely if he wanted, according to Russia Today.