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Ecuador Concedes 'Serious Error' in US Spy Case

  • VOA News

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa gestures during an interview with Reuters in Portoviejo Jun. 30, 2013.

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa gestures during an interview with Reuters in Portoviejo Jun. 30, 2013.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa says his government made a "serious error" in issuing accused U.S. spy Edward Snowden a letter of safe passage as the fugitive sought asylum in the South American country.

Correa, in an interview Sunday with the Associated Press, said his country is still awaiting a formal asylum request from Snowden, before deciding on how to proceed with the controversial case. He also said his government will not block Snowden's entry if he reaches Ecuador.

Snowden, a 32-year-old former National Security Agency contractor, is reported stuck in Moscow's international airport, and Correa said the fugitive is unable to leave without the consent of Russian authorities.

"It depends on the Russian legal system if he [Snowden] can or can not leave the airport, if he can continue his journey."

Snowden fled Hong Kong for the Russian capital on June 23, just days after U.S. prosecutors unsealed espionage charges against the former National Security Agency contractor for leaking information about secret U.S. surveillance operations.

Since arriving in Moscow, U.S. authorities have revoked Snowden's passport, and the fugitive has neither been seen nor heard from publicly. Russian President Vladimir Putin has insisted the 32-year-old Snowden remains in the transit zone of Moscow's airport and says his government will not extradite him.

But Putin also said last week that he wants Snowden to keep moving.

In a separate interview Sunday, anti-secrecy advocate Julian Assange told ABC television that Snowden appears "marooned in Russia" with his flight to avoid prosecution stalled by the U.S. passport revocation.

Ecuador has sheltered WikiLeaks founder Assange at its London embassy for the past year to prevent his possible extradition to the United States, where he faces charges related to the publication of secret U.S. diplomatic cables in 2010.
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