Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino has called on the US to explain itself to the world over its massive spy programme.

Patino's comments came days after Edward Snowden, a National Security Agency (NSA) worker, leaked classified data before fleeing to Russia from where he is seeking asylum in Ecuador.

The developments have sparked a diplomatic dispute between Washington and Ecuador.

“The United States should be giving a clear and thorough explanation to the citizens of the world regarding this issue,” Patino said.

“Instead the entire world is focused on what happens to Edward Snowden and everyone is focused on whether or not the so-called fugitive is captured and that's not the problem."

The US has charged Snowden with espionage for leaking information.

The whistleblower, currently said to be in transit at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, is being assisted by the anti-secrecy organisation WikiLeaks to secure asylum in Ecuador.

Ecuador, whose embassy in London has given WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange asylum as he fights extradition to Sweden where he is wanted on sex assault charges, said earlier this week it was still “analysing” the application.

Snowden has not been seen since he arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong on Sunday, but Russian officials say he is still in transit.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies