The United States has politely asked Ecuador to refuse whistleblower Edward Snowden’s application for asylum, its president Rafael Correa has said.
Correa said US vice-president Joe Biden made the request on Saturday in a “cordial” telephone conversation.
“He communicated a very courteous request from the United States that we reject the asylum request,” Correa said during his weekly television broadcast, praising Biden’s good manners in contrast to the “brats” of Congress who had threatened to cut trade benefits over the Snowden issue.
Biden initiated the phone call, Correa said, and added that he promised to respect Washington’s opinion in evaluating the request.
“When he [Snowden] arrives on Ecuadorean soil, if he arrives … of course the first opinions we will seek are those of the United States,” Correa said.
It is the first high-level discussion between Ecuador and the US since Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, leaked how the spying programme Prism trawled the details of millions of private conversations a day.
Snowden has since applied for asylum in Ecuador.
US should explain itself
The phone call came hours after Ecuador’s foreign minister, Ricardo Patino, called on the US to tell the world why it was spying on so many people.
“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 secret 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 said he is still in transit.