Ecuador considers Edward Snowden’s asylum request .Cuba flight reportedly leaves without him
Ecuador’s foreign minister has questioned the treason and espionage charges against fugitive intelligence worker Edward Snowden, who has continued his globe-trotting game of cat-and-mouse with US authorities.
The former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor is seeking political asylum in the South American nation, although it is unclear if he has now departed Moscow.
Snowden reportedly arrived in Moscow on Sunday from Hong Kong, from where he leaked to the media details of secret cyber-espionage programmes by both US and British intelligence agencies.
However the 30-year-old who embarrassed US president Barack Obama’s administration with his revelations of massive surveillance programs, failed to appear on a flight he had apparently booked from Moscow to Cuba.
But the flight to Cuba left the terminal at Moscow Sheremetyevo airport – with a pack of hopeful journalists on board – and then took off with no sign that the former NSA contractor was among the passengers.
Ecuador’s Ricardo Patino said his country is reviewing the asylum request, but that he believes Mr Snowden is being persecuted.
He said Snowden acted valiantly by exposing the secret operations by the US, who he says has violated the human rights of the whole world through its espionage.
“A man who is trying to shed light and transparency on what affects freedom,” Mr Patino told a press conference in Vietnam.
“He is being persecuted by those who should be the ones explaining to the Governments and the citizens of the world in relation to the accusations that Mr Snowden has presented – that’s the real paradox of life.”
Mr Patino said only Russia knows where Snowden is and a decision on his asylum bid will be made in “due time” after Ecuador had also considered a US request.
“We will consider the position of the US government and we will take a decision in due course in line with the (Ecuadorean) constitution, the laws, international politics and sovereignty,” Mr Patino said.
Meanwhile, Snowden’s whereabouts remains a mystery with reports he has slipped out of Russia on his way to seek asylum in Latin America.
Russia’s Interfax news agency, known for its strong security contacts, said he was likely already out of the country.
“Snowden, most likely, has already left the Russian Federation. He could have left by a different plane,” a source said.
Kerry says it is ‘disappointing’ Snowden has been able to travel
Russian security sources said they had no reason to arrest Snowden, who officials described as an ordinary “transit passenger” who had not crossed the border.
US secretary of state John Kerry meanwhile dubbed Snowden a traitor to his country and warned both Russia and China that their relations with the US might be damaged by their refusal to extradite him.
Snowden was said by Russian officials to have spent the night in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport awaiting his onward connection.
He was not once seen in public in the Moscow airport since Sunday’s Aeroflot flight arrived from Hong Kong.
Mr Kerry says it is “disappointing” that Snowden had been able to fly from Hong Kong to Russia, warning of consequences for ties with Moscow and Beijing.
“It would be obviously disappointing if he was wilfully allowed to board an airplane,” Mr Kerry said.
“As a result there would be without any question some effect and impact on the relationship and consequences.”
Mr Kerry, speaking on a visit to New Delhi, also defended the decision to seek Snowden’s arrest, saying he was a traitor.
“He is an indicted individual, indicted on three felony counts,” he said.
“Evidently he places himself above the law having betrayed his country.”
The US State Department has revoked Snowden’s passport and asked other countries to prevent him from travelling. But a source in Russia’s security agencies told Interfax that Snowden could travel without a passport.
Snowden abandoned his high-paying job in Hawaii and went to Hong Kong on May 20 to begin issuing a series of leaks on the NSA gathering of phone call logs and Internet data, triggering concern from governments around the world.
Hong Kong, a special administrative region under Chinese rule that has maintained its own British-derived legal system, said it had informed Washington of Snowden’s exit after determining that the documents provided by the US government did not fully comply with legal requirements.
- Russia has no reasons to detain Snowden – source (rbth.ru)
- Kerry warns China, Russia of consequences on Snowden (voicerussia.com)
- Ecuador has received asylum request from NSA whistleblower Snowden – FM Patino (EndtheLie.com)