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Snowden, Obama, Ecuador Updates: Russia did not invite Snowden, Obama will not intercept plane
Russia did not invite Edward Snowden onto Russian territory. This was announced on Thursday by the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak. Former CIA officer and NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who revealed the details of secret U.S. intelligence spying programs, fled from the U.S. to Hong Kong, and on June 23, flew to Moscow intending to move onward to Havana.
Currently he is in the transit area of Sheremetyevo international airport, pending a decision by Ecuador from which he has asked for political asylum.
Kislyak does not believe that the problem of Snowden, who did not cross the border into Russia, could complicate relations between Moscow and Washington.
Earlier in the day, President Barack Obama said he "would not use fighter jets to intercept the plane with Snowden, wherever he was going."
Ecuador criticizes Washington's efforts on Snowden
Ecuador, the South American nation considering an asylum request from fugitive U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, renounced its U.S. trade benefits today, saying they were being used as “blackmail.”
“Ecuador doesn’t accept pressure or threats from anyone and doesn’t barter its principles and sovereignty or submit to mercantile interests,” President Rafael Correa said today in a speech in the central province of Los Rios. What Snowden revealed “is a terrible case of massive espionage, both nationally and internationally that clearly threatens the right to intimacy and the sovereignty of states.”
"To grant or deny asylum is essential to the sovereignty of our country."
The announcement comes a day after U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, the New Jersey Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he would lead the effort to block renewal of trade preferences for Ecuador if it granted Snowden asylum. The Andean nation has been lobbying the U.S. congress to renew the preferences, known as ATPDEA, which are due to expire next month.
“Our government will not reward countries for bad behavior,” Menendez said yesterday in a statement. “If Snowden is granted asylum in Ecuador, I will lead the effort to prevent the renewal of Ecuador’s duty-free access under GSP and will also make sure there is no chance for renewal of the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act. Trade preferences are a privilege granted to nations, not a right.”
Ecuador drops US trade deal as America warns it over Snowden case
A defiant Ecuador dropped out of a trade pact with the United States on Thursday, claiming it had become an instrument of "blackmail" as Quito considers asylum for fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden. At the same time, US has warned Ecuador over granting an asylum to Mr Snowden, said US State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrella.
"It will not be a good move if Ecuador provides shelter to Snowden. This will lead to serious complications in bilateral relations," said Ventrella.
"This man is charged with three serious crimes, and he should be extradited to the US to stand trial, and we have brought it to Ecuador's attention," - he recalled.
In the meantime, today Ecuador's government offered the United States $23 million in "economic aid" for "human rights training" to prevent attacks on people's privacy, torture and extrajudicial executions.
"Ecuador unilaterally and irrevocably renounces these preferential customs tariff rights," Communications Minister Fernando Alvarado said, reading a government statement.
"Ecuador does not accept pressure or threats from anyone, and does not trade on principles or make them contingent on commercial interests, even if those interests are important," he said.
The government of leftist President Rafael Correa said that while it had received the preferential rights in exchange for its cooperation in the war on drugs, they had become a "new instrument of blackmail."
The preferential trade program, which covers key Ecuadoran exports such as fresh-cut roses, fruits, vegetables and tuna, was set to expire on July 31 unless the US Congress renewed it.
The arrangement, which dates back to the early 1990s, originally benefited four Andean nations, and Ecuador was the last country still participating in it.
But analysts have warned that Washington may refuse to renew it if Quito grants asylum to Snowden.
The United States is Ecuador's main trade partner, buying 40 percent of the Andean nation's exports, or the equivalent of $9 billion per year.
The 30-year-old Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor who embarrassed the government of US President Barack Obama by revealing details of vast Internet and phone surveillance programs, has requested asylum from Ecuador.
Ecuador has said it could take as little as one day or as long as two months to decide whether to grant asylum to Snowden, who remained Thursday in the transit area of a Moscow airport after fleeing Hong Kong.
Ecuador rejects trade status with US in light of Snowden case
Ecuador said on Thursday it would renounce tariff preferences with the United States, which need renewal by Congress.
Government spokesman Fernando Alvarado accused the United States of using the preferences, which generate millions of dollars, for the sake of "pressuring" Ecuador over it decision to consider an asylum application by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.
Ecuador has taken a "unilateral and irrevocable" decision to renounce the trade status which some US "political sectors, media groups and de-facto powers" had threatened to block, Alvarado said.
"Ecuador will not accept pressure or threats from anyone, nor does it trade with principles or submit them to trade interests, however important they may be," the spokesman added.
Working group of Russian Federation Council invites Snowden to cooperation
A working group of the Federation Council for investigating the facts of American Internet companies providing data about Russians to the US intelligence services invites the ex-employee of the US intelligence Edward Snowden to cooperation, head of the working group, Senator Ruslan Gattarov said Thursday.
The decision on creating the group was adopted at the plenary session of the Federation Council on Wednesday. According to Gattarov, it will include legislators, representatives of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Prosecutor's office, the Ministry of communications, Roscomnadzor. Parliamentarians intend to submit first temporary results of the investigation in October.
"We invite Edward Snowden to cooperation and hope that, as soon as he settles his legal status, he will collaborate with our working group, and give us the proof of the US special services’ access to servers of Internet companies," Gattarov said.
In early June, Snowden, who arrived in Moscow onJune 23 from Hong Kong as a transit passenger, disseminated information that the secret services of the USA use a program that allows monitoring electronic communications on major sites.
Currently Snowden, whose extradition is sought by the USA, presumably, stays in the transit area of the Moscow airport Sheremetyevo.
Obama says doesn't need Putin's, Xi's personal help to grab Snowden
President Barack Obama said on Thursday he had not spoken to Chinese President Xi Jinping or Russian President Vladimir Putin about the U.S. request to extradite former American spy agency contractor Edward Snowden because he "shouldn't have to".
Speaking at a press conference in Senegal, where Obama started a three-country tour of Africa, the U.S. president said normal legal channels should be sufficient to handle Washington's request that Snowden, who left Hong Kong for Russia, be returned.
"I have not called President Xi personally or President Putin personally and the reason is...number one, I shouldn't have to," Obama said.
"Number two, we've got a whole lot of business that we do with China and Russia, and I'm not going to have one case of a suspect who we're trying to extradite suddenly being elevated to the point where I've got to start doing wheeling and dealing and trading on a whole host of other issues," Obama said.
US will not try to intercept flights carrying NSA leaker Snowden - Obama
US President Barack Obama said Thursday he had not called the presidents of China or Russia over the case of fugitive national security leaker Edward Snowden because it was purely a legal issue.
Obama also said he would not use the US military to try to intercept a flight carrying Snowden should he leave Russia: "I am not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker."
Snowden can't fly from Russia as documents invalid - report
Fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden cannot leave the transit zone at a Moscow airport to fly on for another destination as his travel documents are invalid, a report said Thursday.
"Snowden does not have valid documents. He is not flying to Cuba or anywhere else for that matter," a source familiar with the situation told the state RIA Novosti news agency.
The report came after Snowden again failed Thursday to appear on Aeroflot's 1005 GMT service from Moscow to Havana, seen as his most likely onward route.
A senior Ecuadorean foreign ministry official on Wednesday denied claims by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks that Quito had given Snowden a travel document after his US passport was cancelled.
Snowden did not stay at Sheremetyevo Airport's capsule hotel - employee
U.S. National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden did not stay at the capsule hotel of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport but only entered there for a couple of minutes to ask for the prices, an airport employee said.
"Yes, I saw Snowden, he stopped by here to see the pricelist but decided not to stay here. He is not here now, either," an employee from the capsule hotel's reception in Sheremetyevo's terminal E said. "Someone just pulled this hoax, and everybody believed it," she said.
The hotel is comprised of slightly more than 40 small rooms looking like capsules, some of them without windows. Each room has a bed, a table, a shower cabin and a WC.
None of the Sheremetyevo employees could say anything about Snowden's current whereabouts.
Snowden may skip another Cuba flight
Fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden who has recently unveiled NSA’s secret surveillance program is apparently going to skip yet another flight for the Cuban capital.
According to an informed source with Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, the wanted US whistleblower has failed to register for the Havana-bound flight set for Thursday afternoon.
“There is no passenger with this surname on the list,” the source said, adding Snowden might still opt to register online at least 24 hours before the take-off.
Snowden moved out of Sheremetyevo airport capsule hotel
It has been confirmed that fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden had holed up at an airside capsule hotel at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, but has recently moved out, Russian media say.
“He [Snowden] spent several hours here, but he checked out long ago,” reporters were informed at the reception desk of Sheremetyevo’s Air Express Hotel in Terminal E.
According to the source with the hotel staff, a group of journalists settled down at this base hotel almost at the same time as Snowden did, but the whistleblower managed to avoid them.
Another informed source told Russia’s RIA-Novosti news agency Snowden still remains in the airport’s transit area.
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