NSA Leaker Snowden: 'Not a Topic' for Russia, 'Not in Ecuador's Hands'
MOSCOW - Both Russia and Ecuador appeared to distance themselves today from NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
In an interview with Ekho Moskvy radio, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin suggested Snowden would find no refuge in Moscow.
Snowden is "not a topic on the agenda of the Kremlin," Dmitri Peskov said.
His comments came after Putin said last week that "the sooner he leaves, the better for him and Russia."
Snowden remains holed up inside Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, unable to travel because the United States had revoked his passport. He also appears to be struggling to find his way to Ecuador, where he has reportedly sought political asylum.
He has so far been unable to take any of the flights from Moscow to Havana, Cuba, which would allow him to connect to Ecuador.
Ecuador's president, meanwhile, also appeared to pull back some of his country's apparent earlier support for Snowden.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said Snowden is "under the care of the Russian authorities" and that "the case is not in Ecuador's hands."
"If he arrives at an Ecuadorean embassy we'll analyze his request for asylum," he added.
Correa's stance appeared to soften after he received a call from Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday. He said Biden's opinion is "very important to us."
"If he really could have broken North American laws, I am very respectful of other countries and their laws and I believe that someone who breaks the law must assume his responsibilities," Correa said of Snowden. "But we also believe in human rights and due process."
Correa also suggested Ecuador was unaware that Snowden would seek to travel on to Ecuador after he fled Hong Kong for Moscow on June 23. In another interview he suggested that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who himself is hiding from prosecution in Ecuador's embassy in London, was the one who came up with that plan.
"We have not sought out this situation. Snowden is in contact with Assange, who recommended he seek asylum in Ecuador," he said.
Correa also reprimanded an Ecuadorian official in London who provided Snowden with an emergency travel document. In another sign that perhaps Ecuador was not prepared to host Snowden, Correa said that document was issued without consulting officials in Quito, calling the move a "serious error." He said the official would be punished.
At the same time, Correa offered words of encouragement for Snowden.
"Keep your spirits up and be brave," he said.