The government of Ecuador had already been distancing itself from Edward Snowden’s cause. But now the country’s President, Rafael Correa, has gone as far as to say that his government never intended to facilitate Snowden’s journey from Hong Kong to Moscow. He now says his consul in London, apparently in league with Assange, was freelancing. This comes after Snowden released a statement thanking the Ecuadorean government for making his flight (in both sense of the word possible).According to this interview with The Guardian, Correa says that the decision to issue Snowden a temporary travel pass was done by the country’s consul in London Fidel Narvaez, under whose protection Julian Assange is now staying, without authorization. He also seems to suggest that Assange was acting in concert with Narvaez to make this happen.
Here’s the key passage from the Guardian piece …
Correa added his government had not, and would not, give Snowden an authorised travel document to extract himself from the airport. “The right of asylum request is one thing but helping someone travel from one country to another — Ecuador has never done this. ”
He said the temporary travel document issued by his London consul on 22 June – and publicly disowned five days later — was a blunder.
“It was a mistake on our part. Look, this crisis hit us in a very vulnerable moment. Our foreign minister was touring Asia. Our deputy foreign minister was in the Czech Republic. Our US ambassador was in Italy.”
Narvaez and Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who has sheltered at Ecuador’s London embassy for the past year to escape extradition, took matters into their own hands because they feared Snowden risked capture, said Correa.
“The consul, in his desperation, probably he couldn’t reach the foreign minister, it was four in the morning, and he issued a safe conduct document without validity, without authorisation, without us even knowing.”
The president said Narvaez would be “sanctioned” but that he understood the consul and Assange acted in good faith. Quito’s appreciation for Assange had not been damaged, he said.