“And what if the Ecuadorans start selling those secrets to Venezuela or whomever?” Meacham asked. “These secrets, if shared, are clearly a threat to U.S. national security.”
Under those circumstances, the United States may be forced to “build a sanctions regime,” he said.
Patiño didn’t seem worried. He said the United States has “many times” turned down Ecuadoran extradition requests. Since 2000, this country has been asking for the extradition of Roberto and William Isaías, two brothers and former bankers who are accused of embezzling more than $660 million. The men live in Miami. Ecuador’s attorney general has also said the country will ask for the extradition of former central bank president of Pedro Delgado, its former Central Bank president. Delgado, who is Correa’s cousin and also lives in Miami, is being accused of lying about his resume.
It’s still not clear where Snowden will end up.
U.S. State Department Spokesman Patrick Ventrell on Monday said the government assumes he’s still in Russia and has been in contact with authorities there. But it’s not clear that Russia is cooperating. Hong Kong previously said a U.S. extradition request arrived too late, allowing Snowden to leave the country over the weekend.
“For us, we’re just not buying that this was a technical decision by a Hong Kong immigration official,” Ventrell said. “This was a deliberate choice by the government to release a fugitive despite a valid arrest warrant. And that decision, as I said, unquestionably has a negative impact on the U.S.-China relationship.”
Ventrell said the government had been in contact with Ecuador and a “number of countries that were potential destinations.”
“We’ve made our point clear that, as I said, this is somebody who is wanted on criminal felony charges here in the United States and we’d like him returned to the United States to face justice,” Ventrell said.
Mark Weisbrot, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said Ecuador was within its rights to protect Snowden, who he sees as a whistleblower, not a spy.
“It is important that everyone who believes in freedom to defend Ecuador from Washington’s threats, which are very likely if the Ecuadoran government grants asylum to Snowden,” Weisbrot said. “Other governments around the world — whose citizens’ rights have been violated by NSA surveillance overreach — should stand behind Ecuador if it chooses to grant Snowden asylum, as should NGOs.”
El Nuevo Herald staff writer Melissa Sanchez and McClatchy’s Washington Bureau contributed to this report.
An earlier version of the story misstated Snowden’s age. He turned 30 last week.