Monday, June 24, 2013

 

Asylum request from Snowden under reviewing, Ecuadorian FM

Ecuador, June 24 - The Ecuadorian government has told Russia that it is reviewing the asylum request from Edward Snowden, the former U.S. intelligence contractor, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino Aroca said at a press conference held here Monday.

"The Ecuadorian government told Russia that it is reviewing Snowden's request letter for asylum," Foreign Minister Patino made the remarks at the improvised press encounter in Hotel Melia Hanoi, after briefing Snowden's request letter to Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, "We are analyzing and considering the request."

Local journalists were informed of the press conference on Monday, which is not in Vietnamese foreign ministry's tentative schedule.

"We will make the decision at the right moment," said the Ecuadorian foreign minister.

When asked the possible impact on U.S.-Ecuador relationship if Snowden's request is accepted by Ecuadorian government", the foreign minister said, "I don't want to talk about that problem right now, as we have to respect our constitution. If the U.S. government requires anyone it wants, the Ecuadorian government has the right to do anything in accordance with to Ecuador's constitution and international laws."

"We want to put the human rights as a top priority," said Minister Pitino.

The Ecuadorian foreign minister, who has been here for a visit from last Friday, confirmed earlier Monday morning that the Ecuadorian government had received the request for asylum from Snowden and was to analyze that "with a lot of responsibility."

Patino revealed on his Twitter account on Sunday that Ecuadorian government had received Snowden's asylum request, but did not give further details.

An Aeroflot flight reportedly carrying Snowden, who is wanted by the U.S. government for revealing classified surveillance programs, landed at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport at 17:05 local time (1305 GMT) on Sunday, after leaving Hong Kong. Local media in Moscow said Snowden intended to fly to Cuba and then on to Caracas, Venezuela, or Ecuador.

Snowden fled to Hong Kong on May 20 after exposing two highly classified National Security Agency surveillance programs, one collecting U.S. phone records and the other mining Internet data.

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