Ecuador Backs Off NSA Leaker Snowden, Citing Asylum Rules

Edward Snowden remains at a Moscow airport. Ecuador's president says the NSA leaker is in Russia's hands, and can't get asylum without being at an embassy. The Kremlin says he's not a priority.

The fate of NSA leaker Edward Snowden is uncertain, as he seeks asylum while being pursued by U.S. authorities. A week ago, Snowden began what seemed to be a journey from Hong Kong to Ecuador; he remains in limbo at a Moscow airport.

From Moscow, NPR's Corey Flintoff reports for our Newscast unit that neither Ecuador nor Russia have brought clarity to Snowden's situation:

"Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa told the Associated Press Sunday that Snowden is in the hands of the Russian authorities and cannot leave a Moscow airport transit area without their consent.

"Correa said Ecuador can't consider an asylum request from the 30-year-old intelligence analyst unless he applies in Ecuador or at an Ecuadoran embassy.

"Meanwhile, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Snowden is not on the Kremlin's agenda.

"Dmitri Peskov did say, however, that Russian authorities would take into account requests from Russian groups that want the government to grant Snowden asylum in Russia."

Officials from Iceland, named as another possible destination for Snowden, have also said that anyone seeking asylum must be in the country or at one of its embassies.

Late last week, Ecuadoran officials declared that travel papers from their country that promised Snowen's safe passage were not valid, the AP reported.

The United States has revoked Snowden's passport. During his flight, he has received advice from WikiLeaks, the group whose founder, Julian Assange, remains holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London. As The Two-Way reported Sunday, Assange calls Snowden "a hero."

Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry says he believes China's help would have "made a difference" in the case of Snowden, who was hiding in Hong Kong when classified documents he had provided to the media were published.

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