Ecuador: Snowden might be in that airport for a while

posted at 12:01 pm on June 26, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Edward Snowden and his supporters may be anxious to have his residency situation resolved as soon as possible, but not the only country to which he’s applied for asylum.  Ecuador, which granted political asylum to Wikileaks founder and Snowden ally Julian Assange, said today that they won’t be rushed into making a decision.  Snowden, who is waiting in the transition area in Moscow’s airport, may need to stay there a while:

Ecuador’s foreign minister said Wednesday his government could take months to decide whether to grant asylum to fugitive U.S. National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino compared Snowden’s case to that of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been given asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

“It took us two months to make a decision in the case of Assange, so do not expect us to make a decision sooner this time,” Patino told a news conference during a visit to Malaysia’s main city, Kuala Lumpur.

WikiLeaks spokespersons have said Ecuador is for the moment the only place Snowden has officially applied to for asylum from U.S. prosecution.

Actually, the clock may not even be ticking yet:

Asked if Ecuador would provide protection to Snowden while considering his request for asylum, Patino said through a translator that if Snowden “goes to the embassy, then we will make a decision.”

That’s a problem for Snowden.  So far, Russia has parried US demands to extradite Snowden on the basis that he hasn’t officially entered the country yet.  Even if he did, though, the US and Russia don’t have an extradition treaty in place.  Besides, Vladimir Putin is having far too much fun at the Obama administration’s expense, although the New York Times reports that he’s getting tired of the rhetoric, as Putin explained with a colorful metaphor:

But while American officials remained angry at China for letting Mr. Snowden fly to Moscow, they and their Russian counterparts toned down the red-hot language that threatened a deeper rupture in relations. Mr. Putin said he saw little to gain in the conflict. “It’s like shearing a piglet,” he said. “There’s a lot of squealing and very little wool.” Some American officials interpreted the comment as a positive signal and speculated that Mr. Snowden would be sent to another country that could turn him over.

Realistically, the Russians could seize him in the airport if they desired, but it might be a little embarrassing for Putin to do so now after he and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stood on the technicality for the last couple of days.  If Snowden officially enters Russia — which he would need to do in order to get to the Ecuadorian embassy — then all bets are off.  However, even that’s problematic, as his American passport is no longer valid.

Ecuador could supply him with a new passport, of course, but they’d have to do that before he got to the embassy.  It doesn’t sound as though Ecuador is in any rush to do that, even if it would make Snowden feel a little more at home in Ecuador if he arrives there at all.  And if he does, Snowden might feel more at home than he thinks, as Rosie Gray reported yesterday for BuzzFeed:

The intelligence agency of Ecuador appears to have sought in recent months to obtain new equipment for a large-scale surveillance, according to confidential government documents obtained by BuzzFeed.

The capabilities sought by Ecuador resemble the National Security Agency practices revealed by Edward Snowden, who is reportedly seeking asylum in the left-leaning Latin American republic.

The Ecuadorian documents — stamped “Secret” — obtained by BuzzFeed appear to show the government purchasing a “GSM Interceptor” system, among other domestic spying tools, and they suggest a commitment to domestic surveillance that rivals the practices by the United States’ National Security Agency that are at the center of a fierce national debate. They include both covert surveillance capacities and the targeting of President Rafael Correa’s enemies on social media. According to the files, SENAIN keeps close tabs on the Facebook and Twitter accounts of journalists, opposition politicians and other individuals, some with few followers.

Ecuador also wants to get some drones:

The documents were provided to BuzzFeed from inside SENAIN through activists who wished to call attention to the government’s spying practices in the context of its new international role. The sources who provided the documents on the condition of anonymity, citing the dangers of attempting to publicize them domestically.

They also suggest that the Ecuadorians sought to buy drones. Smart Solution proposed two surveillance systems to SENAIN, one called the “Semi Active GSM Interceptor System” and the other called a “Passive Surveillance System. ”

Why does Ecuador need drones?  They haven’t deployed military forces outside of Ecuador and aren’t helping to fight the war on terror abroad.  The assumption would be that the government wants to use them for domestic surveillance. We’ll look forward to Snowden’s exposé within a few months of his arrival.

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Wasn’t Tom Hanks in that movie?

John the Libertarian on June 26, 2013 at 12:09 PM

Wool comes from pigs? Translation problem?

slickwillie2001 on June 26, 2013 at 12:12 PM

Wasn’t Tom Hanks in that movie?
John the Libertarian on June 26, 2013 at 12:09 PM

Exactly, just like the movie ‘The Terminal’. Kinda ominous name there, eh Snowdie?
Oh, and get used to the fine scent of that bathroom disinfectant all airports use. It’ll grow on ya… literally.

Marcola on June 26, 2013 at 12:13 PM

I didn’t know Lefortovo Prison was part of the Moscow airport transit zone :-)

Steve Eggleston on June 26, 2013 at 12:15 PM

The assumption would be that the government wants to use them for domestic surveillance. We’ll look forward to Snowden’s exposé within a few months of his arrival.

Snowden doesn’t disapprove of domestic surveillance (China, Russia, Ecuador.) He disapproves of America’s domestic surveillance.

rbj on June 26, 2013 at 12:19 PM

Hah, Putin just called Mr. Horsehead Kerry a “pig”.

Kerry was groveling royally yesterday and Putin loves it. Ed, you misread Putin.

Schadenfreude on June 26, 2013 at 12:20 PM

Wool comes from pigs? Translation problem?

slickwillie2001 on June 26, 2013 at 12:12 PM

He said that little wool (or none) comes from a pig.

Schadenfreude on June 26, 2013 at 12:21 PM

Don’t kid yourself. He’s being interrogated by the FSB for any last shred of info.

blue13326 on June 26, 2013 at 12:22 PM

So far, Russia has parried US demands to extradite Snowden on the basis that he hasn’t officially entered the country yet.

Putin has gone much farther than that

Today, Russian President Vladir Putin said that fugitive Edward Snowden will not be extradited, did not commit any crime in Russia, and is free to travel anywhere.

The way I read that, ‘anywhere’ includes anywhere in Russia.

Fenris on June 26, 2013 at 12:26 PM

slickwillie2001 on June 26, 2013 at 12:12 PM

Made better sense in the original Russian. Russian idioms are like that.

coldwarrior on June 26, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Steve Eggleston on June 26, 2013 at 12:15 PM

Lefortovo? Snowden has yet to break any Russian laws.

He might find a nice place out in Yasenovo…there is an American-like” suburbs built in the shadow of the former KGB Headquarters [Now FSB/SVR] and campus that would be comfortable temporary digs for Snowden should the Russians decide that his being in the airport a la Viktor Navorski becomes unsafe, an embarassment or simply a pain in the tuckus.

But Lefortovo? That’s for real spies…spies the Russian don’t like.

coldwarrior on June 26, 2013 at 12:38 PM

Why does Ecuador need drones?

It’s the latest rage.

the_nile on June 26, 2013 at 12:43 PM

the_nile on June 26, 2013 at 12:43 PM

Inca insurgency?

coldwarrior on June 26, 2013 at 12:50 PM

Easy way out for Putin and the Russians. Snowden is soon going to overstay his transit visa, so could just simply be deported or something.

DaveO on June 26, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Lefortovo? Snowden has yet to break any Russian laws.

He might find a nice place out in Yasenovo…there is an American-like” suburbs built in the shadow of the former KGB Headquarters [Now FSB/SVR] and campus that would be comfortable temporary digs for Snowden should the Russians decide that his being in the airport a la Viktor Navorski becomes unsafe, an embarassment or simply a pain in the tuckus.

But Lefortovo? That’s for real spies…spies the Russian don’t like.

coldwarrior on June 26, 2013 at 12:38 PM

I figure that he’s already told the Russians all he knows (which really isn’t all that much). In that case, why would he continue to be coddled?

Steve Eggleston on June 26, 2013 at 12:57 PM

I figure that he’s already told the Russians all he knows (which really isn’t all that much). In that case, why would he continue to be coddled?

Steve Eggleston on June 26, 2013 at 12:57 PM

What does Putin have to gain by extraditing Snowden? I can’t think of anything, except Obama’s good will, which isn’t worth a bucket of warm piss. Try translating that idiom into Russian.

Fenris on June 26, 2013 at 12:59 PM

Wool comes from pigs? Translation problem?

slickwillie2001 on June 26, 2013 at 12:12 PM

Translation problem? No.

Essence: Why would anyone bother to shear a pig, it is a foolish and useless exercise because everyone KNOWS wool does not come from pigs.

What it really means: Mr. Putin is tired of playing chess against inferior opponents. He knows he’s already won this match. He is expressing the idea that any more effort on this issue or any more “gamesmanship” is simply a waste of time. The USA is making a lot of noise (“squealing”) but will not likely engage in ANY sort of action.

bigbeachbird on June 26, 2013 at 1:04 PM

Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino compared Snowden’s case to that of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been given asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

Wait just a second… who feeds him? The Ecuadorean Embassy? If so, maybe we can work out a deal for the illegals in this country to head over to the Ecuadorean Embassy in DC for asylum.

ButterflyDragon on June 26, 2013 at 1:06 PM

Has Snowden ever been to Ecuador? How come the wonderful press can’t report facts on anything? Ecuador has a lot of kidnappings for ransom or just to parade around the jungle for years. Hope he doesn’t expect the US to save his ass if that happens. Anyway, I heard there is a FARC presence in Ecuador.

Blake on June 26, 2013 at 1:12 PM

Plus, he may feel right at home there.

Political concubines like Madison Conservative will see to it.

MadCon, en espanol la palabra es “chupar.” Lo chupa facíl, tonto.

Capitalist Hog on June 26, 2013 at 1:17 PM

Wool comes from pigs? Translation problem?

slickwillie2001 on June 26, 2013 at 12:12 PM

That was the whole idea, that there’s very little ‘wool’/fur/hair on a pig to make the whole effort worth it, few benefits associated with his presence there….in other words Snowden’s not worth a dead rat to them…

jimver on June 26, 2013 at 1:18 PM

They also suggest that the Ecuadorians sought to buy drones. Smart Solution proposed two surveillance systems to SENAIN, one called the “Semi Active GSM Interceptor System” and the other called a “Passive Surveillance System. ”

GSM is a system of identifying and billing mobile phone subscribers. (AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon use it.) Both “GSM Interceptor” and “Passive Surveillance” seem to suggest phone and data monitoring systems, rather than drones.

Gene Hunt on June 26, 2013 at 1:21 PM

What does Putin have to gain by extraditing Snowden? I can’t think of anything, except Obama’s good will, which isn’t worth a bucket of warm piss. Try translating that idiom into Russian.

Fenris on June 26, 2013 at 12:59 PM

The other way round is just as true, he has nothing to gain by keeping that punk there either. So why bother? He just said it by using the colorful piglet metaphor.

jimver on June 26, 2013 at 1:23 PM

Easy way out for Putin and the Russians. Snowden is soon going to overstay his transit visa, so could just simply be deported or something.

DaveO on June 26, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Vladimir is pretty unpredictable, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gives him the boot. Besides by now you’d think they got off that idiot’s electronic devices whatever they needed to, alas, they’re a few days behind the Chinese :), but still, worth the try. ..so, why keep the putz, Vlad has never been animated by humanitarian feelings…

jimver on June 26, 2013 at 1:29 PM

Exposing the spying on American citizens by our government was the right thing to do.

But as with all “insurgents”, there is usually a high price to pay.

Just ask the Signers of The Declaration of Independence.

KMC1 on June 26, 2013 at 1:32 PM

Exposing the spying on American citizens by our government was the right thing to do.

So it’s OK if feds break into your house to prove you fudged your taxes?

anti-American scumbag

Capitalist Hog on June 26, 2013 at 1:38 PM

The wool from pig thing has been “explained” in this thread several times proving that most commenters don’t read too many comments (besides their own).

A bit embarrassing.

Sherman1864 on June 26, 2013 at 2:37 PM

Man without a country.

SC.Charlie on June 26, 2013 at 2:42 PM

hey .. didn’t someone report that the pending Immigrant-Amnesty Bill allows illegals to possess as many as three fake passports?

Seems the KGB could whip up something for Snowden.
/.

CaveatEmpty on June 26, 2013 at 6:47 PM

They may have misinterpreted Putin – he is saying there isn’t much hair to lose on a pig so there isn’t much to lose in US/Russian relations. So, no, not hopeful at all.

Snowden is in Russia and US diplomacy is in the toilet.

virgo on June 27, 2013 at 12:36 AM