Ecuador Stepping Back On Snowden Asylum Offer?


The Government of Ecuador appears to be stepping back from  its offer of asylum to Edward Snowden:

PORTOVIEJO, Ecuador — President Rafael Correa said Sunday that while there were weighty arguments for granting asylum to the fugitive American intelligence leaker Edward J. Snowden, it was up to Russia to decide what happens to him.

But with Russian officials maintaining that Mr. Snowden is not their problem, the president’s remarks added to a growing sense that Mr. Snowden is stuck in geopolitical limbo in a Moscow airport, where he has apparently been since he flew there from Hong Kong on June 23.

Mr. Snowden, who is wanted in the United States on charges of breaking espionage laws, has applied for asylum in Ecuador, but Mr. Correa said that his government could not begin to consider the request until Mr. Snowden reached Ecuador or one of its embassies. Mr. Snowden’s American passport has been revoked; without it, he would appear to be unable either to pass through Russian immigration control or to travel on to another country.

“He’s in the international area of the Moscow airport, but basically under the care of the Russian authorities,” Mr. Correa said in an interview. “Strictly speaking, the case is not in our hands.”

Russian leaders disclaim responsibility as well, noting that the transit zone of Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow, where Mr. Snowden is believed to be cloistered, is legally considered to be outside Russia’s borders.

A Russian immigration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that Mr. Snowden had not applied for a visa, which would be needed to leave the transit zone, and that he could remain there indefinitely if he wanted. There have been cases of asylum-seekers living in the transit zone for as long as nine months.

Dmitri S. Peskov, the press secretary to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, said in a radio broadcast on Sunday that Mr. Snowden’s situation “is not one on the Kremlin’s agenda.” Mr. Peskov said in a separate interview that Mr. Snowden had not applied for asylum in Russia.

Mr. Correa said his ambassador to Moscow had met with Mr. Snowden on his second day at the airport, and that he had instructed the ambassador to see Mr. Snowden again, to tell him why Ecuador could not yet consider his application.

Mr. Correa provided some new details about how Mr. Snowden’s truncated dash for refuge unfolded. He said that the country’s foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, probably discussed the possibility of asylum for Mr. Snowden when he met in London with Julian Assange, the founder of the antisecrecy organization WikiLeaks, several days before Mr. Snowden left Hong Kong.

There’s been significant back tracking by he Ecuadoreans in this matter. When Snowden first arrived in Russia, he met with Embassy officials and others and was given official correspondence from the country’s Foreign Minister that would have allowed him to travel legally to Ecuador without a passport. At some point early last week, that paper was revoked by Ecuador’s President, according to some reports because of what he perceived to  be interference in Ecuadorean affairs by Julian Assange from his hideout in the embassy in London, although it may also have been due to pressure from U.S. officials who have been quietly reminding Correa of the damage that assisting Assange could do to trade an other relationships with the United States. So, now, Snowden is basically held up in the Transit Hotel in Moscow and unable to leave unless he has the cooperation of the Russians and, presumably, a visa from some other nations. How long this is going to last is anyone’s guess.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. TPF says:

    Snowden is finding out the hard way that Ron Paul was full of crap.

  2. JohnMcC says:

    What a wonderful planet we would live on if there were some sort of continuum of political/economic systems! If we had a menu of ‘more-free’ vs ‘more communitarian’ and could chose the libertarian appetizer and the social-democratic entree with a side of religiosity.

    Unfortunately, we live in a world of bi-polar choices. Nader voters in FL discovered that their gesture brought them GWBush. Now Mr Snowden has discovered that broadcasting classified data from the U.S. has brought him to Moscow.

    One might have expected someone who claims such intelligence would have planned his escape a little better. Maybe a prior arrangement to gain dual citizenship for example, so that he could simply pull out his Icelandic or Ecuadorian or Brazillian passport and fly away to Shangri-La. But I bet he thought that a large enough segment of the world would acclaim him a hero and welcome him to a sanctuary.

    Reality sucks. But it has the advantage of being real.

  3. Jenos Idanian says:

    Maybe Ecuador has heard that Snowden was already in contact with Greenwald et al before he took the Booz job in Hawaii, and have come to the entirely-logical conclusion that Snowden took the job with the intent of stealing and releasing documents. Or maybe they found out that Greenwald himself has a rather extensive history of… let’s say interesting actions.

  4. 11B40 says:


    Facileness is something to be admired in politicians. Senor El President Correa seems to be trending from his “Quein es mas macho?” back to is more usual narcissistic demeanor. A guy can get a taste for being in the “pictures at eleven”.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Is a US prison better than a Moscow airport? Inquiring minds want to know….

    So, now, Snowden is basically held up in the Transit Hotel in Moscow and unable to leave unless he has the cooperation of the Russians and, presumably, a visa from some other nations. How long this is going to last is anyone’s guess.

    Serious question: How can one get a visa if one does not have a passport?

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:


    But I bet he thought that a large enough segment of the world would acclaim him a hero and welcome him to a sanctuary.

    DING DING DING!!!! We have a winner!

    I actually feel a little sorry for the poor sap. Apparently, the people who were giving him advice didn’t have his best interests in mind. What they wanted was a martyr, and now, in their eyes anyway, they have one.

  7. stonetools says:

    Ecuador is in trade negotiations with the USA.

    On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that if Ecuador granted asylum to Snowden, then he would lead efforts to prevent the renewals of Ecuador’s duty-free access to U.S. markets under the Generalized System of Preferences program and of the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act: Both would expire by the end of next month unless renewed, as Reuters said. Ecuador responded by unilaterally renouncing the trade benefits, saying it would not be blackmailed by political posturing.

    Ecuador sends 35 percent of its exports to the U.S., worth about $6.5 billion, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    When money talks, bullsh!t walks. I’m sure the government of Ecuador has had time to rethink whether Snowden is worth endangering 35 per cent of its economy in these economic times.

  8. Andre Kenji says:

    Rafael Correa is using Snowden and the US government to score easy political points. He is pointing to two bankers that are in Miami and that the US refuses to extradite. I bet that Snowden is not in Moscow and that he, Wikileaks, Russia, Ecuador and Hong Kong are simply trolling the US government and media.

  9. walt moffett says:

    And now it appears Snowden has applied for asylum in Russia with the assistance of a Wikileaks attorney. Wonder if feels like Mongo now?

  10. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    “Snowden not queer!”