The NSA Case's Secret Story: Turmoil in South America

PHOTO: This picture taken on June 18, 2013 shows a man walking past a banner displayed in support of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden in Hong Kong.

This is an English translation of a Univision News exclusive, first published July 1.

The granting of a safe-conduct pass by the government of Ecuador to former CIA agent and NSA contractor Edward Snowden generated a crisis in the Andean country’s diplomatic circles, according to documents and communications obtained exclusively by Univision News.

The evidence shed light on contradictions by the Ecuadorian government both regarding the issuing of the document and the participation of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is currently claiming asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

The safe-conduct was processed before Snowden left Hong Kong for Moscow, and was in fact delivered to the former intelligence agent in Hong Kong, as Snowden himself revealed in a thank you letter sent to President Rafael Correa and made public this Monday.

Correa had already admitted publicly that the Ecuadorian consul in London, Fidel Narváez, had given the safe-conduct to Snowden, adding that the document “was not valid.”

“I didn’t know that Snowden was on his way to Ecuador. He was in Hong Kong, I don’t know why he went to Russia, and given his despair because they were going to take his passport away and capture him, our consul (in London) makes a grave mistake and gives him a safe-conduct with no validity, without the government’s knowledge and without authorization,” said the president.

Correa also denied that he, personally, knew about the safe-conduct, stating that he was in a “forest” on the outskirts of Quito, without phone coverage, when the document was created in London on the morning of Saturday, June 22.

Univision established that at least four important diplomats and three high-ranking advisors to the administration in Quito, including Minister of Foreign Affairs Ricardo Patiño Aroca, and Rafael Correa’s legal counsel, had knowledge of and participated in the diplomatic dealings to assist Snowden.

The Ecuadorian consul in London, Fidel Narváez, prepared the special document to guarantee protection for Snowden in the event that he had to travel, while the American ex agent was still in Hong Kong and had not yet made an official request for asylum.

The document, which offered Snowden protection to travel to Ecuadorian territory with the purpose of being granted political asylum, was prepared by Vice Consul Javier Mendoza and was edited by Consul Narváez for 48 minutes according to the document’s metadata.

“The General Consul of Ecuador in London grants this SAFEPASS to the below mentioned citizen. This document is granted to allow the bearer to travel to the territory of Ecuador for the purpose of political asylum. It is requested to the relevant authorities of the transit countries to give the appropriate help, so that the bearer of this document may continue his trip to Ecuador,” reads the document.

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