Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa said on Tuesday that his country could still consider an application for political asylum from US fugitive Edward Snowden.
“If Mr. Snowden ends up in the territory of Ecuador at some point, for example, if he comes to a diplomatic mission in some country and asks for asylum, we will accept his application, look at all the legal aspects, and make a decision,” the Ecuadoran leader said in a press-conference in Moscow after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, is wanted in the United States for espionage and other charges after leaking details of vast US telephone and internet surveillance programmes.
He was granted asylum by Russia on August 1, after spending over a month holed up in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.
Snowden wrote to a slew of countries seeking asylum while at the airport, although he mostly received swift rejections.
Correa, whose country has been sheltering WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in its embassy in London since 2012, said at the time that Ecuador cannot process Snowden’s request until he makes it to its territory, suggesting instead that Russia grants him refuge.
Asked on Tuesday if he discussed the Snowden case with Putin at their meeting in Moscow, Correa said “absolutely not”.
Snowden is now in hiding in Russia, although a video was released this month of him meeting with four former US government employees who became whistleblowers and who presented him with an award in an unidentified location.
Snowden was initially thought to be headed for Latin America to seek asylum, but got stuck in Sheremetyevo during a layover after the US authorities revoked his passport.
His Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said in recent interviews that Snowden is now likely to remain in Russia.