Rafael Correa not considering Snowden asylum: ‘we helped him by mistake’
- guardian.co.uk, Monday 1 July 2013 21.44 EDT
Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa said Snowden ‘must be on Ecuadorean territory’ to make an asylum request. Photograph: Martin Mejia/AP
Ecuador is not considering Edward Snowden’s asylum request and never intended to facilitate his flight from Hong Kong, president Rafael Correa said as the whistleblower made a personal plea to Quito for his case to be heard.
Snowden was Russia’s responsibility and would have to reach Ecuadorean territory before the country would consider any asylum request, the president said in an interview with the Guardian on Monday.
“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.”
The president, speaking at the presidential palace in Quito, said his government did not intentionally help Snowden travel from Hong Kong to Moscow with a temporary travel pass. “It was a mistake on our part,” he added.
Asked if he thought the former contractor would ever make it to Quito, he replied: “Mr Snowden’s situation is very complicated, but in this moment he is in Russian territory and these are decisions for the Russian authorities.”
On 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.”
The comments contrasted with expressions of gratitude the 30-year-old fugitive issued hours later, before Correa’s views had been published.
“I must express my deep respect for your principles and sincere thanks for your government’s action in considering my request for political asylum,” Snowden said, according to a letter written in Spanish and obtained by the Press Association news agency, based in London.
“There are few world leaders who would risk standing for the human rights of an individual against the most powerful government on earth, and the bravery of Ecuador and its people is an example to the world.”
Snowden compared the silence of governments afraid of US retaliation with Ecuador’s help in his flight to Moscow on 22 June. A temporary Ecuadorean travel document substituted for his cancelled US passport.
“The decisive action of your consul in London, Fidel Narvaez, guaranteed my rights would be protected upon departing Hong Kong – I could never have risked travel without that. Now, as a result, and through the continued support of your government, I remain free and able to publish information that serves the public interest.”