The United States has been in touch via diplomatic and law enforcement channels with countries in the Western Hemisphere through which Snowden might transit or that could serve as final destinations. The U.S. is advising these governments that Snowden is wanted on felony charges, and as such should not be allowed to proceed in any further international travel, other than is necessary to return him to the United States."
Snowdens arrival in Ecuador could fuel diplomatic tensions.
In 2011, Ecuador expelled U.S. Ambassador Heather Hodges after WikiLeaks publicized a cable she had written in 2009 outlining corruption charges against a former police chief. In that cable, she speculated that Correa had appointed the chief because his checkered past made him easy to manipulate. Ambassadors were eventually restored starting in December 2011, but Correa has maintained his fiery rhetoric.
Over the weekend, he blasted the United States for criticizing a new Ecuadoran media law that many fear will muzzle the press. Among other things, the law makes the publication of private communications WikiLeaks bread and butter illegal.
Speaking to supporters, Correa said the United States needed to worry about its own human rights record, including the prisoners in Guantánamo detention center, and spying on its allies and the media.
Understand that Latin America is dignified and sovereign in the 21st Century, he said. Its not anyones backyard.
Earlier Sunday, there was speculation that Snowden might seek asylum in Iceland, Cuba or Venezuela. That sparked U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL, Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, to say she wouldnt be surprised if Snowden found safe-haven on the communist island or its mainland ally.
The cruel irony is that there are no press freedoms in either Cuba or Venezuela, yet Snowden, who supposedly stands for transparency in government, seeks refuge in police states like these two countries, she said. Those who misrule over Cuba and Venezuela, Raúl Castro and Nicolás Maduro, do not allow independent free press, do not cooperate on terrorism related issues, disregard due process and an independent judicial system.
Snowdens departure from Hong Kong came a day after the United States made a formal request for his extradition. Hong Kong said the request did not fully comply with legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the Associated Press reported. The government also said Snowden left on his own accord for a third country through a lawful and normal channel.
The Cuban government had no comment on Snowdens movements or reports he might use Havana as a transit point.
Snowdens departure came as the South China Morning Post released new allegations from the former National Security Agency contractor that U.S. hacking targets in China included the nations cellphone companies and two universities hosting extensive Internet traffic hubs.
He told the newspaper that the NSA does all kinds of things like hack Chinese cellphone companies to steal all of your SMS data. It added that Snowden said he had documents to support the hacking allegations, but the report did not identify the documents. It said he spoke to the newspaper in a June 12 interview.
With a population of more than 1.3 billion, China has massive cellphone companies. China Mobile is the worlds largest mobile network carrier with 735 million subscribers, followed by China Unicom with 258 million users and China Telecom with 172 million users.
Snowden said Tsinghua University in Beijing and Chinese University in Hong Kong, home of some of the countrys major Internet traffic hubs, were targets of extensive hacking by U.S. spies this year. He said the NSA was focusing on so-called network backbones in China, through which enormous amounts of Internet data passes.
This story contains material from The Associated Press.