Ecuador yesterday denied ever authorising a “safe passage” travel document for US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden and said it would not be able to process his asylum request until he enters Ecuadoran territory.
“We confirm that the Government of Ecuador has not authorised the delivery of any safe passage or refugee document that would allow Mr Snowden to travel to our country,” Political Issues Minister Betty Tola told reporters.
Tola added that Ecuador has not been able to process the US fugitive’s asylum request “because the petitioner is not in Ecuadoran territory as the law mandates.”
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, whose anti-secrecy website has assisted Snowden, said on Monday that Ecuador had given Snowden a “refugee document of passage” that would allow him to travel here.
The US Spanish-language television network Univision published on its website a “safepass” document with the letterhead of Quito’s consulate in London, asking authorities in transit countries to “give the appropriate help” as the bearer travels to Ecuador.
Assange has himself been sheltered by Ecuador in the Andean nation’s London embassy, enabling him to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces sexual assault allegations.
The United States revoked Snowden’s passport after he revealed a massive US surveillance program and the former National Security Agency contractor has been holed up in a Moscow airport since arriving there from Hong Kong on Sunday.