Will Edward Snowden, the former U.S. intelligence analyst who revealed information over programs to collect telephone and Internet data, make his way to Ecuador and receive asylum? That could be the case according to senior Ecuadorian officials.
Yesterday Minister of Foreign Affairs Ricardo Patiño mentioned in his Twitter account that Snowden did solicit a request for asylum in Ecuador. Patiño subsequently read Snowden’s appeal for asylum “due to the risk of persecution by the government of the United States and its agents.”
“There are some governments that act more upon their own interests, but we do not," Patiño
said at a Monday morning press conference. "We act upon our principles… We take care of the human rights of the people,” he added in remarks made to reporters in Vietnam.
Patiño’s remarks were followed up by President Rafael Correa who tweeted, “Be assured that we will responsibly look into the Snowden case and we will take with absolute sovereignty the most adequate decision.”
The sheltering of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for the past twelve months and the possible asylum to Snowden has divided residents of Quito.
“I'm opposed to asylum because the government is always politicizing human rights," said architect Bolivar Lupera, to Reuters while graphic designer Rodolfo Guaman observed, "I'm in agreement because the United States has spied on underdeveloped nations, and this gentleman should not be condemned."
Meanwhile, Wikileaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson defended press freedoms in Ecuador during a “heated exchange” with an Australian journalist:
(ABC journalist Virginia) Trioli asked Hrafnsson: "Why would fighters for press freedom end up in the arms of regime like that?"
Hrafnsson said critics of press freedom in the South American country painted "too much of a bleak picture".
When pressed further Hrafnsson said one could "criticize the media laws and journalistic freedom in most countries in the world".
Hrafnsson was then asked if recommending Ecuador as a refuge for political asylum was hypocritical, given WikiLeaks' commitment to openness and transparency. He replied: "Why is it for WikiLeaks to defend the situation in Ecuador in that respect? This is the decision of Edward Snowden to go to that country, and this the main issue at hand here.Speculation has run rampant over which Latin American country could become Snowden’s final destination. According to the Russian press, Snowden was to board an Aeroflot flight from Russia to Cuba en route to Venezuela but he never went on that flight.
As of the time of this post, Snowden’s whereabouts are publicly unknown though White House spokesman Jay Carney believes he’s still in Russia. Meanwhile, Assange claimed that Snowden was “healthy and safe” at an undisclosed location and planned to take safe passage through “other states” to Ecuador.
Video Source– YouTube via euronews
Online Sources – Bloomberg; La Hora; The Guardian; CBS News; Huffington Post; Reuters