The case of fugitive Edward Snowden is adding fuel to the fire in a trade row between the United States and Ecuador.
The US has urged Ecuador not to accept Snowden’s application for political asylum in the South American country.
It threatened Ecuador with the removal of favourable trade agreements between the two countries if it does not comply.
Ecuador’s President, Rafael Correa, did not take well to the threats. “In the face of this blackmail, we tell the US: do not threaten us with removing the preferential tariffs. We unilaterally and irrevocably waive them, you can keep them,” he said.
The snub to the decades-old trade agreement is a dramatic, though largely symbolic, gesture, as the benefits were due to expire in coming weeks anyway.
Though political foes, the US and Ecuador are closely linked economically.
Ecuador’s economy is heavily dependent on the United States, which is its largest export market.
Removal of the trade agreements may harm its biggest exports to the US, including oil, cut flowers, fruits, vegetables and tuna.
Snowden’s father says he could return to US
Edward Snowden father has said in an interview with NBC News that while he has not had recent contact with him, he is reasonably confident his son would return to the United States if certain conditions were met.
Those conditions could include not detaining Snowden before trial, not subjecting him to a gag order and letting him choose the location of his trial.
Lonnie Snowden also expressed concerns that his son, a former contractor for the National Security Agency, was being manipulated by others, including people from the anti-government secrecy group WikiLeaks.
“I am concerned about those who surround him. Wikileaks – if you look at past history – their focus isn’t necessarily the Constitution of the United States. It’s simply to release as much information as possible. So that alone is a concern for me,” he said.
Lonnie Snowden told NBC he has not had contact with his son since April: “I love him. I would like to have the opportunity to communicate with him. I don’t want to put him in peril.”
He said he did not think his son had committed treason, even though US laws were broken with the release of details of the federal monitoring programmes: “He has betrayed his government, but I don’t believe that he’s betrayed the people of the United States.”