Saturday, June 29, 2013

Biden enters Snowden fray, amid uncertainty in Moscow

"Marooned in Russia," says Julian Assange

Guadalajara -
The best news on the international front which the U.S. has received all week is that Rafael Correa likes Joe Biden.

Ecuador's president revealed today the the two had a friendly telephone chat yesterday. The Veep, not surprisingly, asked Correa to deny former security contractor Edward Snowden's request for political asylum.

The passport-less Snowden has been on the lam for several weeks. He remains in an international zone of the Moscow airport, from where the Russians say they have no intention of dislodging or deporting him.

"I told him, Mr. Vice President, thanks for your call. We appreciate the United States very much. We weren't looking for this situation. We're not anti-American, the way some press have maliciously tried to paint us," said Correa.

But Correa's comments will not necessarily cheer Snowden or his team of Wikileaks attorneys and advisers.

Earlier this week both the Ecuadorian foreign minister and the country's secretary of communication had tough words for Washington, suggesting the administration might announce at any moment that it had decided to grant asylum. Today the president sang a rather different song.

Correa told the press that no decision could be made on the asylum request until Snowden is on Ecuadorian soil.

"When he gets here - if he gets here - for sure we'll process his application. And the United States' opinion on the matter will certainly be solicited."

The condition suggested by Correa will seem unusual to many. If Russia is not holding Snowden - president Putin said this week that he is "a free man and can buy a ticket for any destination he wants" - there would appear to be nothing to stop him from heading to Quito without further delay. Yet Snowdon has not done so, almost a week after his unexpected arrival from Hong Kong. Some media sources have reported that Snowden was issued temporary travel documents by Ecuador to facilitate his escape, making Correa's remarks all the stranger.

Russia hosts an international gas exportation conference July 1-2, which Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro is expected to attend. There has been speculation that Maduro might try to meet directly with Snowden in Moscow, since he indicated this week that Venezuela is prepared to receive the fugitive if no one else will. For now, Snowden remains a man desperately looking for a country.

June 30: Earlier this morning Wikileaks founder Julian Assange told ABC news that Edward Snowden "appears to be marooned in Russia." Ecuador may have revoked temporary travel documents issued to the American fugitive last week.

Ecuador's gutsy "stick it"
El destino de Snowden está en manos de Rusia, afirma Correa

© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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