Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa has denied granting asylum to the former US spy agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.
He has described as “cordial” a telephone conversation with the US Vice President Joe Biden over the issue.
But Correa has also admitted that a mix-up in Ecuador’s London consulate resulted in Snowden being given an unauthorised safe-passage document as he fled Hong Kong for Russia.
“The consul overstepped his role and will face sanction,” Correa said. His government had originally denied this.
Snowden, who is wanted by the US for leaking details about a covert surveillance program, is believed to be in Moscow after leaving Hong Kong.
Although, Ecuador’s president says he does not know if Snowden is headed for the country, many people are starting to fear the knock-off effect of shielding a wanted US citizen.
Washington has signalled that it will indefinitely delay a decision to eliminate tariffs on Ecuadorean imports of roses; a trade worth some 250 million US dollars a year.
Benito Jaramilo, head of Ecuador’s flower-growing association said: “If this escalates, it could also decrease flower exports from Ecuador, affecting the jobs of our people and revenue in US dollars for our country, which is essential for the dollarisation.”
For now though, it seems Snowden’s lack of a valid travel document appears to be one of the primary obstacles to his leaving the transit area at Moscow international airport.