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Ecuador receives asylum request from Snowden: FM


08:01, June 24, 2013

QUITO/MOSCOW, June 23 (Xinhua) -- Ecuadorian government has received asylum request from Edward Snowden, the former U.S. intelligence contractor, Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino Aroca said on his Twitter account Sunday.

Patino was on an official visit to Vietnam and did not give further details on his Twitter account.

An Aeroflot flight reportedly carrying Snowden, who is sought by the United States for revealing classified surveillance programs, landed at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport at 17:05 local time (1305 GMT).

Local media quoted an unnamed Aeroflot official as saying Snowden was on Flight SU213. The report said Snowden intended to fly to Cuba on Monday and then on to Caracas, Venezuela.

At about 18:40 local time (1440 GMT), Xinhua reporters saw two cars from the Ecuadorian embassy in Russia parked outside the Sheremetyevo airport. One car later left with embassy staff.

A crowd of reporters waiting outside the airport exit didn't see Snowden approaching the embassy car. Embassy employees refused to comment on whether they were going to pick up Snowden. An Ecuadorian newspaper reported that Snowden was examined by an Ecuadorian Embassy doctor.

Local media cited airport officials as saying the whistleblower was not allowed to get out of the airport and had to stay in the terminal's transit zone until boarding Flight SU150 to Havana, Cuba since he has no Russian visa.

At about 22:00 Moscow time (1800 GMT), local media reported that Snowden was staying at a hotel at the airport.

Snowden fled to Hong Kong on May 20 after exposing two highly classified National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs, one collecting U.S. phone records and the other mining Internet data.

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