Snowden, 30, has been in a Moscow airport terminal since Monday as he tries to elude capture by U.S. authorities who want him on criminal espionage charges. A former National Security Agency contractor, Snowden has unveiled government programs that intercepted Internet and telephone communications worldwide. Alvarado called those programs a clear violation of international laws.
“We understand that there should be mechanisms to fight terrorism,” he said. “But we cannot allow that to be an excuse to trample human rights and the sovereignty of nations.”
The government also denied reports that Snowden was carrying Ecuadoran identification documents. WikiLeaks had said that Snowden was traveling with Ecuadoran refugee papers after the United States had revoked his passport. But Betty Tola, this country’s political secretary, said any Ecuadoran documents Snowden might be carrying “have no validity whatsoever.” She also said the country cannot begin processing his asylum request until he’s in Ecuadoran territory.
Without legal ID, Snowden may have trouble flying out of Moscow, at least commercially.
Ecuador is the only country that has acknowledged receiving Snowden’s asylum request. But on Wednesday, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said his country would “most likely” give Snowden refuge if he asked for it. Maduro plans to visit Moscow in July, generating speculation that Snowden may try to hitch a ride back on the presidential aircraft.
The Snowden affair has fueled tensions across the globe, particularly with China — where Snowden began revealing his secrets — and Russia, which has said it cannot legally extradite him.
On Thursday, President Barack Obama said he had not called his counterparts, in the interest of not further damaging ties.
“I have not called President Xi personally or President Putin personally,” Obama said at a news conference in Senegal. “I shouldn’t have to. This is something that routinely is dealt with between law enforcement officials in various countries. And this is not exceptional from a legal perspective.”
He also ruled out a military-style extraction for Snowden.
“I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a -year-old hacker,” he said. “I get why it’s a fascinating story from a press perspective. I’m sure there will be a made-for-TV movie.”
McClatchy Newspapers correspondent Anita Kumar contributed to this report.