President Rafael Correa has backed environmental lawsuits, against Chevron for example, that accuse the U.S. company of polluting large swathes of the Amazon rainforest. In 2009, Correa also refused to renew the U.S. military's lease on an airforce base in the Pacific port of Manta despite requests by U.S. diplomats to renew the lease, as the base was being used for anti-narcotics flights.
Alex Sanchez, an international security analyst at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs says that providing asylum to Snowden wins political points for Ecuador's leftist president.
"Correa wants international recognition, [as a defender of human rights]," Sanchez said. "This also allows him to show [domestically] that he is not a lackey of the U.S. like previous presidents of Ecuador."
The decision to grant asylum to Snowden would, of course, generate diplomatic tensions between Ecuador and the U.S. But Sanchez said that such tensions might not be too risky for Ecuador.
Sanchez noted that Venezuela is still allowed to sell oil to U.S. refineries, for example, even while its government blasts out anti-U.S. rhetoric in international forums and accuses U.S. embassy personnel of being part of plots to "destabilize" that country. If the U.S. government fails to take any reprisals for such matters, Ecuador is probably figuring that there will be few reprisals from the U.S. over Snowden's asylum claim, Sanchez said.
4. President Correa will be around for a while
From Snowdens perspective, the political situation in Ecuador provides another important bonus. President Correa was just re-elected this year and has four years left in his current term. If Correa pushes for a law that allows for an unlimited number of re-elections like Chavez did in Venezuela, he could also be around for more than that.
Snowden will probably be safe in Ecuador while Correa is at the helm. Though as Foreign Policy magazine notes, he will have to come up with a long-term strategy to ward off legal challenges, and even with a way to make a living for himself, after the Ecuadorean government tires of paying for his bills.