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Snowden can't leave Moscow, Ecuador president says

Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked to The Guardian that the U.S. government had collected phone records of millions of Verizon customers, is seen in this undated file photo.

June 30, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Ecuador's president said Sunday that former NSA contractor Edward Snowden is not allowed to leave Russia.

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa told the Associated Press that Snowden cannot leave Moscow's international airport without his U.S. passport. Correa added that Snowden is "under the care of the Russian authorities."

According to Correa, he had no clue Snowden planned to head to Ecuador after fleeing Hong Kong for Russia last week. He said the Ecuadorean consul in London committed "a serious error" without consulting any officials in Ecuador's capital when the consul issued a letter of safe passage for Snowden. He said the consul would be punished, although he didn't specify how.

Correa said "the case is not in Ecuador's hands" and said Snowden must assume responsibility if he broke U.S. laws. Correa said the broader legitimacy of Snowden's action must be taken into consideration and Ecuador would still consider an asylum request but only if Snowden is able to make it to Ecuador or an Ecuadorean Embassy to apply.

"This is the decision of Russian authorities. He doesn't have a passport. I don't know the Russian laws, I don't know if he can leave the airport, but I understand that he can't," Correa said. "At this moment he's under the care of the Russian authorities. If he arrives at an Ecuadorean Embassy we'll analyze his request for asylum."

The U.S. is seeking Snowden's extradition after he leaked documents to the Guardian that revealed the NSA's surveillance program.

Meantime, German magazine Der Spiegel reported Sunday that secret documents taken by Snowden revealed U.S. spies had allegedly bugged European Union offices.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.