Ecuador said Wednesday it would take months to decide on whether to grant asylum to US whistleblower Edward Snowden,currently staying in Moscow airport for the fourth day in a row after fleeing Hong Kong.
Ecuadors Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino,who is here on an official visit,compared Snowdens case to that of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange,who has been given asylum by is country and is holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.
It took us two months to make a decision in the case of Assange,so do not expect us to make a decision sooner this time, Patino told reporters. Asked if Ecuador would provide protection to Snowden while considering his request for asylum,Patino said if Snowden goes to the embassy,then we will make a decision. Patino refused to say what criteria Ecuador would use to decide,but added that his government would consider all these risks, including concerns that it would hurt trade with the US and his countrys economy.
Snowden,30,had blown the lid off National Security Agencys secret spy programme. Snowden is charged with violating American espionage laws. He is currently in Russia after fleeing from Hong Kong.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had Tuesday said Snowden is in the transit zone of Moscows Sheremetyevo airport. He has rejected US pleas to turn him over.