Ecuador demanded Wednesday that the Obama administration make its case in writing to bring NSA leaker Edward Snowden into custody as the country weighs whether to grant him political asylum.
In a sharply worded statement, the Ecuadorian Embassy's deputy chief of mission said the showdown over Snowden “wasn't being provoked by Ecuador.”
Efrain Baus said the country would follow its laws in determining whether to grant him his request for asylum.
“This request will be reviewed responsibly, as are the many other asylum applications that Ecuador receives each year,” Baus said. “The Government of Ecuador has requested that the US submit its position regarding this applicant in writing so that it can be taken into consideration as part of our thorough review process.”
Baus went on to slam recent U.S. criticism of Ecuador's alleged crackdown on domestic media.
“As the Government of Ecuador carries out its obligations, the Embassy of Ecuador strongly rejects recent statements made by United States government officials containing detrimental, untrue, and unproductive claims about Ecuador,” Baus said.
“Ecuador has signed all the human rights instruments of the Hemisphere and is fully committed to the rule of law and the fundamental principles of international law.”
The Snowden affair is the latest blow-up between the Obama administration and the government of leftist President Rafael Correa.
Ecuador has been hosting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at its embassy in London for more than a year, as he evades an extradition request to Sweden on sexual assault charges.
The issue risks long-term damage to the relationship. Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.), the top Democrat on the House trade panel, told The Hill there was “no way” Ecuador's trade preference deal with the United States would be renewed when it expires next month if Snowden is granted asylum.
“There's been issues about Ecuador all along,” said Levin. “And if they do this, there's no basis for even discussing it.”
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