Monday, June 24, 2013

In Vietnam, Ecuadorian foreign minister praises Hồ Chí Minh, while focusing on U.S. fugitive Edward Snowden

A Hanoi exit for Snowden?

Guadalajara -
In Hanoi this morning, Ecuadorian Minister of Foreign Relations Ricardo Patiño heaped praise on the Vietnamese people and the hero of their so-called "war of liberation," the late Hồ Chí Minh, for having won "independence and liberty from the great forces of imperialism in the last century."

During a press conference focused almost exclusively on the whereabouts of perhaps the world's most wanted man, former U.S. security contractor Edward Snowden, Patiño said he had traveled to Vietnam to strengthen ties between the two nations. He did not refer directly to the bloody 20 year conflict (1955-1975) which took the lives of almost 60,000 American soldiers, and which ended in an unprecedented defeat for U.S. military forces in southeast Asia.

Yesterday Patiño confirmed that Snowden and his Wikileaks team of legal advisers had formally requested political asylum in Ecuador. Edward Snowden likely headed to Venezuela or Eucador. Today he read aloud the full letter asking for help which he said Snowden had sent to Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa.

"I'm being persecuted by the United States and its agents," Snowden allegedly wrote, for having revealed that "the U.S. is regularly intercepting a large part of the world's communications." Snowden compared himself to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, and to Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is on trial at Ft. Meade for turning over thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables to Wikileaks several years ago. American officials contend the public release of those documents has greatly hampered the conduct of foreign relations with friends and foes alike, while potentially jeopardizing U.S. national security (U.S. intensely focused on Yucatán security in 2008-2009, diplomatic cables reveal).

Concurring with Snowden's allegations, Patiño argued that "electronic espionage is being carried out world wide by some of the great powers, especially by the United States. Who is betraying whom?," he queried.

Patiño told the press conference that Ecuador is "very carefully studying" Snowden's application for asylum, and "we have so advised our Russian counterparts." He implied, without confirming, that Snowden is still in Moscow, where the latter apparently has consulted with diplomatic officials from both Venezuela and Ecuador.

A movie may already be in the works - "The Great Quito Caper"

There are regular Aeroflot flights from Moscow to Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital, but Patiño gave no indication that he would return to Quito with Snowden in tow. Still, that possibility cannot be entirely discounted, further teasing an international press which is desperately trying to get a bead on the elusive contractor. More than a few American politicians have called Snowden a traitor who merits the harshest possible punishment.

Snowden was charged under the almost century old Espionage Act of 1917. Infamous "atomic spies" Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed under that statute in June 1953, at the height of the Cold War. But Snowden's offenses do not qualify for the death penalty.

Referring to the U.S. State Dept.'s revocation of Snowden's passport over the weekend, Patiño said, "Unlike some countries, in Ecuador there are no 'illegals' " - a clear reference to the United States, where that issue is front and center before the Congress this summer. "There are only people who have immigration irregularities, which can always be adjusted. The Ecuadorian constitution protects them just the same as it does our own citizens."

The foreign minister added, "Ecuador will be guided in its decision first and foremost by principle - not by its own economic interests, and not by diplomatic pressure from any quarter."

Patiño's comments suggest that his country may have already decided to do its best to get Snowden safely on Ecuadorian soil, whatever the long term costs or consequences. The remaining questions may be only how, when and where.

June 25 - Putin says Snowden is still in Russia, but not really

Uncle Ho, as American G.I.s were fond of calling him, devoted his entire life to fighting "imperialists of the West" who struggled mightily to dominate his country - France and the United States. He crushed them both. Ho, regarded as a political genius and a gifted military strategist, died in 1969.

© 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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