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article imageOp-Ed: Ecuador cools to Snowden and revokes his travel document

By Ken Hanly     Jun 29, 2013 in Politics
Quito - Edward Snowden, the whistleblower on US secret surveillance, has still been unable to arrange asylum in Ecuador. President Correa of Ecuador has revoked Snowden's temporary travel document.
While President Correa of Ecuador has often engaged in anti-US rhetoric and actions, he also wants to improve relations with the US. Correa has declared that the safe conduct pass that was issued by Ecuador's London consul that Julian Assange helped arrange was unauthorised and therefore Correa revoked it. Correa does not want it to appear as if Assange and Wikileaks are in charge of Ecuadorean foreign policy.
Anonymous sources told reporters that there are divisions over Assange and Snowden within the Ecuadorean government. Ecuadorean ambassador to the US, Nathalie Celie, said that Quito's role in the Snowden affair was being overshadowed by that of Assange and Wikileaks. She said:"I suggest talking to Assange to better control the communications. From outside, [Assange] appears to be running the show." A senior foreign diplomat in Quito told the Guardian newspaper that some factions in the government were annoyed by what they see as Assange grandstanding.
Assange apparently sent a message to the Ecuador's foreign minister apologizing for any discomfort caused to Ecuador in the Snowden affair:"There is a fog of war due to the rapid nature of events. If similar events arise you can be assured that they do not originate in any lack of respect or concern for Ecuador or its government." Snowden's travel document apparently contained the printed name but not the signature of the London consul, Fidel Narvaez. Narvaez is thought to be himself in Moscow. Snowden's US passport has been revoked. The travel document would have helped Snowden leave Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport where he has been since leaving Hong Kong last week.
Correa had previously praised Assange but at a press conference at which he declared Snowden's travel document invalid, he also said that Ecuador would not consider an asylum request unless Snowden reached Ecuadorean territory. It is not clear how he can accomplish that without any documents. Correa said: "The situation of Mr Snowden is a complex situation and we don't know how he will solve it." Correa, at the same time, defied the US by waiving preferential trade rights to prevent what he called Washington's blackmail. Analysts said that Correa, who is an economist whose specialty is game theory, had managed to gain political capital from the Snowden affair without drawing any retaliation from the US. It is clear how he has done this surely. His rhetoric is strongly anti-American playing to his political supporters but in reality he is really snubbing Snowden and Assange by preventing Snowden from travel to Ecuador. No doubt to encourage foreign investment many members of his government want to see relations with the US improve. They probably could care less if Snowden becomes a casualty in pursuing these better relations.
There seem to be quite a few press reports that stress the involvement of Wikileaks and even the Guardian reports that his father is concerned about those around his son. Those around his son are on the same mission as he was, it is not surprising they are trying to help him, which is what they are doing. In a TV interview Snowden's father said:"I don't want to put him in peril, but I am concerned about those who surround him. I think WikiLeaks, if you've looked at past history … their focus isn't necessarily the constitution of the United States. It's simply to release as much information as possible." His father continued: "At this point, I don't feel that he's committed treason. He has broken US law, in a sense that he has released classified information. And if folks want to classify him as a traitor, in fact he has betrayed his government. But I don't believe that he's betrayed the people of the United States."
As reported earlier in Digital Journal, Snowden's father thinks that his son might return to the US for trial if he was assured that he would not be detained before trial, could choose the location of the trial and also not be subjected to a gag order. I doubt that any of those conditions would be met. However, it is not clear if Snowden shares his father's views on this. The two have not spoken since last April.
Joe Biden, US Vice President and Ecuadorean President Corea have discussed Snowden according to Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters. Rhodes is traveling with Obama on his Africa visit. It looks as if Snowden should start looking for other destinations to seek asylum than Ecuador.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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