Nation & World News

Ecuador Backs Off NSA Leaker Snowden, Citing Asylum Rules

By Bill Chappell on July 1st, 2013

The fate of “NSA leaker” Edward Snowden is still uncertain, as he seeks asylum while being pursued by U.S. authorities. A week ago, Snowden began a journey from Hong Kong to a “third country,” possibly Ecuador, and he remains in limbo at a Moscow airport.

From Moscow, NPR’s Corey Flintoff reports for our Newscast unit that neither Ecuador nor Russia has brought clarity to Snowden’s situation:

“Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa told The Associated Press on Sunday that Snowden is in the hands of the Russian authorities and cannot leave a Moscow airport transit area without their consent.

“Correa said Ecuador can’t consider an asylum request from the 30-year-old intelligence analyst unless he applies in Ecuador or at an Ecuadoran Embassy.

“Meanwhile, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Snowden is not on the Kremlin’s agenda.

“Dmitri Peskov did say, however, that Russian authorities would take into account requests from Russian groups that want the government to grant Snowden asylum in Russia.”

Officials from Iceland, named as another possible destination for Snowden, have also said that anyone seeking asylum must be in the country or at one of its embassies.

Late last week, Ecuadorean officials declared that travel papers from their country that promised Snowden’s safe passage were not valid, The Associated Press reported.

The United States has revoked Snowden’s passport. The former NSA contractor has received advice from WikiLeaks, the group whose founder, Julian Assange, remains holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. As Mark reported Sunday, Assange says Snowden “is a hero.”

Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry says he believes China’s help would have “made a difference” in the case of Snowden, who was hiding in Hong Kong when classified documents he had provided to the media were published.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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