Edward Snowden’s Chances With Ecuador Look Increasingly Bad

By
President Rafael Correa.
President Rafael Correa.

Following the Saturday announcement that he'd had a "cordial" phone call with Vice-President Biden, who asked that Edward Snowden not be given asylum in Ecuador, Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa told the Associated Press that the special travel document Julian Assange obtained from Ecuador's London Embassy promising the NSA leaker safe passage to Ecuador was "a serious error." (On Friday, he declared the document invalid.) Correa went on to say that "the case is not in Ecuador's hands," though he also said he would still consider an asylum request if Snowden can get to Ecuador or an Ecuadorean embassy to apply for one. But, for now, Correa stressed that "This is the decision of Russian authorities. He doesn't have a passport. I don't know the Russian laws, I don't know if he can leave the airport, but I understand that he can't. At this moment he's under the care of the Russian authorities." Those comments seemed to contradict Russia's position on the matter, which is that Snowden is not technically in Russia, as he remains in the Moscow airport's international transit zone. (Russian officials reiterated their statements in response to Correa's.)

At this point, Correa seems to be hoping that Snowden will give up on the Ecuador idea. "If he really could have broken North American laws, I am very respectful of other countries and their laws and I believe that someone who breaks the law must assume his responsibilities," he said, though he was sure to add, "But we also believe in human rights and due process."

Correa also said he "greatly appreciated" Biden's call, during which he said the Vice-President asked that Snowden be sent back to the United States immediately, should he somehow get to Ecuador. "I told him that we would analyze his opinion, which is very important to us," he said, comparing the conversation favorably to some senators' demands that the United States cut off trade with Ecuador. Leave it to Biden to diffuse a difficult situation with charm alone.