Ecuador’s leftist government is yet to decide whether they will keep Edward Snowden or not. The country faces enough dilemma since it became involved with whistleblower Snowden. On Thursday, their president Rafael Correa, said that he was considering letting Snowden enter his country, or not. The US government on the other hand, is mounting pressure on them and tensions are rising inside the leftist country over US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden. Washington is reportedly pressurizing Quito to extrdite him to them.
The Ecuadorian government is considering it “blackmail” in the name of Snowden. President Correa said, “You request asylum when you are on a country’s territory. Snowden is not on Ecuadoran territory, so technically we cannot even process the asylum request”.
Edward Snowden has been traced by US intelligence through several countries since his whistle-blowing scandal and, now he is in Russia. It has become a cat and mouse chase as the US government tries to find him.Ecuador is apparently his choice of final destination.
The United States revoked Snowden’s passport after he revealed a massive US surveillance program, and the 30-year-old computer specialist has been holed up at the Moscow airport’s terminal since arriving there from Hong Kong on Sunday.
The US government is still denying that they are “blackmailing” Ecuador. But Ecuador’s President is very clear. “Would he be allowed to arrive on Ecuadoran territory? This is something that, in principle, we haven’t considered”, said Rafael. “We would consider it, but for now he is in Russia”, he added. So, it has been clear that Ecuador needs to think and rethink about whistleblower Snowden’s case. They don’t want their trade to be hampered over such a “minor” issue. But nothing stops them from facing a “major” dilemma.
The US Spanish-language television network Univision published on its website what appeared to be a “safepass” document with the letterhead of Quito’s consulate in London, asking authorities in transit countries to “give the appropriate help” as the bearer travels to Ecuador.
Though US president Obama wants to clear the air on Snowden saying he is not “Wheeling and dealing” but the air gets more turbulent. And he added, “No, I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker” when questioned about the leaker’s next Latin American asylum.
In Washington, US state department deputy spokesman Patrick Ventrell warned that giving Snowden asylum would create “grave difficulties for our bilateral relationship.”
“If they take that step, that would have very negative repercussions,” Ventrell said.
But a US official also denied that a bilateral trade pact was being used as “blackmail” in the case, insisting that Washington wanted to maintain a good economic relationship with Quito.
Ecuador’s communications minister Fernando Alvarado announced earlier that the country “unilaterally and irrevocably renounces these preferential customs tariff rights”.
“Ecuador does not accept pressure or threats from anyone, and does not trade on principles or make them contingent on commercial interests, even if those interests are important,” he said. Ecuadorean officials said that it would take months to make a decision on request.
So, Ecuador doesn’t want to struggle in rough water, and it seems they are really fishes out of water. They won’t damage their own well-being to trap some foreign fish. On the other hand, Edward Snowden, either saint or satan must try to play a “Catch me if you can” game with his country. Truly it’s going to be next big epic for Hollywood. But for now Ecuador faces a dilemma over a leaker, hacker, whistleblower and intellectual, whose name is Edward Snowden.
Written by: Jayeeta Shamsul