US Vice President Joe Biden asks Ecuador to refuse asylum for whistleblower Edward Snowden


US Vice President Joe Biden has asked Ecuador to turn down an asylum request from National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, the country's president said last night. Rafael Correa said he had a "friendly and very cordial" conversation with Mr Biden, and told the Vice President that Ecuador hadn't sought to be put in the situation of deciding whether to harbour an American fugitive.

Mr Correa said Ecuador can't consider the asylum request until Mr Snowden is on Ecuadorean soil. "The moment that he arrives, if he arrives, the first thing is we'll ask the opinion of the United States, as we did in the Assange case with England."

Julian Assange, founder of the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, has been given asylum in Ecuador's embassy in London.

The call between Mr Biden and Mr Correa is the highest-level conversation between the US and Ecuador that has been publicly disclosed since Edward Snowden began seeking asylum from Ecuador. Mr Correa, in a weekly television address, praised Mr Biden for being more courteous than US senators who have threatened economic penalties if Ecuador doesn't co-operate.

Mr Snowden arrived in Moscow by air some days ago and is believed to be holed up in the city's airport transit zone. He is reported to be with a WikiLeaks official, and this, together with the degree of involvement the organisation now has in his affairs has attracted some antagonism. A day or so ago, Mr Snowden's father, Lonnie, claimed in an interview that his son was being manipulated by others, including people from the anti-government-secrecy group WikiLeaks. "I am concerned about those who surround him," he told NBC. "WikiLeaks ... their focus isn't necessarily the Constitution of the United States. It's simply to release as much information as possible. So, that alone is a concern for me."

Lonnie Snowden said he is reasonably confident his son would return to the US if certain conditions were met: no detention before trial, no gag order, and letting him choose the location of his trial. The NBC report added that Mr Snowden snr plans to make these points in a letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder.