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Ecuador denies granting Snowden safe conduct


08:36, June 28, 2013

QUITO, June 27 (Xinhua) -- Ecuador denied reports Thursday it had authorized granting safe conduct to Edward Snowden, the U.S. intelligence agent-turned-whistleblower accused of espionage by Washington, so that he can travel to the South American country.

At a press conference in Quito, Ecuador's Political Management Secretary Betty Tola denied the report made Wednesday by U.S. television channel Univision which said that it was given a copy of the document. The document dated June 22 bears the name of Ecuador's consul in London, Fidel Narvaez, but apparently not his signature.

"Any document, in this sense, has no validity, and is the sole responsibility of the person who issued it," said Tola, leading to speculation in the news that officials in the Ecuadorian government disagree on how to handle Snowden's request for asylum.

"Mr. Edward Snowden's asylum request has not been able to be processed yet because the applicant is not in Ecuadorian territory, " Tola said, explaining that according to Ecuadorian law, asylum seekers must be in the country or at one of its embassies before the petition can be followed up.

Snowden, a former contractor at the U.S. National Security Agency, blew the lid on that country's secret global surveillance program and is now wanted on espionage charges. He initially fled the U.S. for Hong Kong, but is now believed to be at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport's transit area since Sunday.

Tola indicated that Ecuador is sympathetic to Snowden's plight, by noting that seeking asylum is a human right established in article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 22 of the American Convention on Human Rights, as well as article 41 of Ecuador's Constitution and article 4 of Ecuador's Alien Status Law.

What's more, Snowden's disclosures helped uncover a secret worldwide spying program that is against international law, so charging him with a criminal offense could go against the principles of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which the U.S., sadly, has not ratified, Tola added.

Also Thursday, Ecuador renounced its participation in a preferential trade treaty with the United States, saying it did not want the upcoming renewal of the treaty to be used as " blackmail" to try and influence Ecuador's decision on granting asylum to Snowden.

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