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Good Question: Why Does Snowden Seek Ecuador?

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(credit: CBS) Heather Brown
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Russian president Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that the man who leaked secret documents about a U.S. surveillance program is holed up inside the Moscow airport. On Sunday, Edward Snowden flew from Hong Kong to Russia – a country that has no extradition agreement with the US.

Now, he’s trying to get to Ecuador. That has a lot of you wondering: Why is Snowden asking the government of Ecuador to take him in?

According to Christopher Sabatini, the senior director for policy at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas, it stems from Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador.

“He really is someone who’s very flamboyant, very arrogant actually on the personal level — I know him,” Sabatini said.

Correa received his Ph.D in Economics from the University of Illinois in 2001, but Sabatini said his father was indicted for drug trafficking by the U.S.

“It’s really about striking a blow, in his view, against imperialism,” Sababtini said.

In 2012, Ecuador granted asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after he was charged with sexual assault in Sweden, allegations Assange denies. For more than a year, Assange has been living in the Ecuadoran embassy in London.

In his letter officially requesting asylum to Ecuador, Snowden wrote, “I have been accused of being a traitor,” and “There have been calls for me to executed or imprisoned.”

Despite an extradition treaty with the U.S., the foreign minister of Ecuador said his country will “study thoroughly” Snowden’s application.

Correa has been criticized for running an anti-media government. Two weeks ago, the Ecuadoran National Assembly passed a law to restrict journalists from criticizing the government. But on Tuesday, Correa’s foreign minister Ricardo Patino said Snowden’s request “has to do with freedom of expression and with the security of citizens around the world.”

Sabatini believes allowing Snowden inside Ecuador is really more about sticking it to the U.S.

“There’s no strategic reason to do it,” he said. “In fact, doing it would actually bring him more grief than it would be worth.”

He believes it would jeopardize U.S. assistance, visas and end a trade agreement that allows for tariff-free goods between Ecuador and the U.S. He said countries like Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Venezuela would think twice about granting asylum to Snowden.

“It’s not a welcome task, I think there would be a price to pay,” Sabatini said. “As much as it would bring glory among the anti-globalization crowd, I don’t think it would ultimately benefit any country were they to decide to do it.”

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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