27 June 2013, 05:46

US legislators threaten Ecuador with trade loss over Snowden

US lawmakers warned Wednesday they would block renewal of Ecuador's tariff preferences if Quito grants political asylum to Edward Snowden, while Ecuador said the US must explain in writing why refuge should not be granted.

The remarks escalated the this week's tension, which began Sunday when Snowden left Hong Kong for the transit lounge of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport. He was trapped there overnight Wednesday, reportedly without valid travel documents after the US cancelled his passport.

Snowden has requested political asylum in Ecuador, which has given refuge to WikiLeaks anti-secrecy activist Julian Assange in its London embassy.

US lawmakers threatened to block future approval of Ecuador's current privileged trade status under several laws, including the US Generalized System of Preferences and the Andean Trade Preference Agreement.

The Ecuadorian embassy in Moscow said that Snowden argued in his asylum application that he expected political prosecution in the United States. "He fears not to get a fair trial and the risk of being sentenced to life imprisonment or death," the embassy said in a statement.

Voice of Russia, DPA

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