MOSCOW, June 27 (RIA Novosti) – Ecuadorian authorities did not issue any travel document for fugitive former CIA employee Edward Snowden, wanted by the United States for leaking state secrets, Ecuador’s acting foreign minister said on Wednesday.
“This is untrue. No Ecuadorean consulate has ever issued a passport or other document [to Snowden],” said Galo Galarza, who is standing in for the country’s foreign minister Ricardo Patino, who is currently on a tour of Asia.
Galarza’s statement was posted on the website of private Ecuadorian TV station Teleamazonas.
On the same day, Latin American news website Univision Noticias published a "safepass" in Snowden's name purportedly issued by the general consul of Ecuador in London "to allow the bearer to travel to the territory of Ecuador for the purpose of political asylum." Calls to the Ecuadorian consulate in London to verify the authenticity of the document went unanswered on Thursday morning.
Patino said in a Twitter message earlier Wednesday that that his government could take “a day, a week, a month or even two months as it was in [WikiLeaks founder Julian] Assange’s case” to decide whether to grant asylum to Snowden.
The foreign minister of Ecuador earlier said that Snowden, who is wanted by the United States for disclosing a top-secret surveillance program that allegedly targeted millions of Americans, had requested political asylum in his country.
Meanwhile, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Snowden is “almost sure” to get political asylum in his country if he files a formal request.
Snowden reportedly took a plane from Hong Kong to Moscow on Sunday. After two days of intense media speculation about his whereabouts, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that he was in Moscow in an unspecified transit area, presumably at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, and that Russia was under no legal obligation to hand him over to the United States.
The head of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Menendez, warned Ecuador that it might lose its preferential trade status if it offers asylum to Snowden. He also called on Russia to stop sheltering the fugitive.
Meanwhile, a member of the Russian Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, Kirill Kabanov, said he had asked his colleagues to consider asking the Russian leadership to grant political asylum to Snowden.
The council’s chairman, Mikhail Fedotov, replied that the request would be considered and put to a vote.
"If an issue like that gains the support of the majority of the council’s members, then it can be considered a request on behalf of the whole council. Once the vote secures 31 votes [in favor], a document is considered to be accepted,” he said.
Updated with details of published "safepass" document. Corrected to reflect Putin's reference to an unspecified transit area, rather than Sheremetyevo Airport specifically.