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, which has been harboring WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for over a year at its embassy, has been internationally criticized for a recent communications law that is widely seen as a gag order for the media and includes prohibitions on “media lynching.”