Ecuador fears US retaliation
President Correa for decision 'fully respecting our sov Ecuador's decision to study the asylum petition of US intelligence leaker Edward...
President Correa for decision 'fully respecting our sov Ecuador's decision to study the asylum petition of US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has angered the opposition and sparked fears that the United States could retaliate by hitting Ecuadoran exports. The small South American nation has been at the center of the international drama involving the former National Security Agency contractor, whose global flight from American justice has shaken US ties with a clutch of nations including Russia and China. Business leaders fear that giving Snowden asylum could prompt the United States to take retaliatory measures, with a preferential trade deal set to expire at the end of July unless Washington renews it. "We don't have the luxury of taking the wrong steps," the head of the Ecuadoran Business Committee, Roberto Aspiazu, told AFP. "What would we gain from giving political asylum to Snowden -- confirming Ecuador's international image as an anti-imperialist country? I don't think we need that." The United States is Ecuador's main trade partner, buying 40 per cent of the Andean nation's exports, or the equivalent of $9 billion per year. Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said on Tuesday that the US State Department had contacted his ministry about the case. "Since this message is only verbal for now, I have asked that they send it to us in writing so that we can take it into consideration when we analyze the asylum request of Mr Snowden," Patino said during a trip to Vietnam without providing more details. Snowden was believed to be on his way to Ecuador when he left Hong Kong and landed in Moscow on Sunday, but Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was still in the transit area of the Russian airport on Tuesday, though free to leave. Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa said he would take a decision on Snowden's application "fully respecting our sovereignty" and his allies in the Congress vowed to back the leftist leader, who has often tussled with the United States in his six years in power. Still In transit Snowden � who turned 30 four days ago � arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong on Sunday and has since then remained in a transit zone of Sheremetyevo airport in the Russian capital. Snowden requested political asylum in Ecuador which is already keeping WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at its embassy London. Can't extradite him: Putin President Putin said that Snowden never crossed the Russian border and doesn't fall under any extradition treaty. He called accusations against Russia "nonsense and rubbish." Snowden was in the transit area of Moscow airport, but not technically in Russia, he said. He did no wrong Amnesty International urges the US not to hunt down Edward Snowden since "no one should be prosecuted for disclosing human rights violations by the government." They also said the NSA leaker cannot be extradited while his asylum bid is underway.
21 Jan 2020 10:43 AM GMT