WASHINGTON – Ecuador has issued a “safe pass” transit permit for US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, according to the US-based Spanish-language TV network Univision, which posted what it said was a copy of the document online.
Quito had denied that it had provided the fugitive with any travel documents, following comments by WikiLeaks, which is helping Snowden avoid US capture, that he left Hong Kong on a refugee document supplied by Ecuador.
Snowden spent a fifth day in a Moscow airport on Thursday, with his travel plans still a mystery. Washington has revoked his passport and is demanding that Russia extradite him to the United States.
The document Univision posted was issued on June 22 from Ecuador’s general consulate in London. The text is in both English and Spanish.
“The General Consul of Ecuador in London grants this SAFEPASS to the below mentioned citizen. This document is granted to allow the bearer to travel to the territory of Ecuador for the purpose of political asylum.
“It is requested to the relevant authorities of the transit countries to give the appropriate help, so that the bearer of this document may continue his trip to Ecuador.”
The single-page document, which includes the coat of arms of Ecuador, then lists Snowden’s name, birthdate and birthplace, hair and eye color, height and marital status.
“Place and date of Issue: London, 22 June 2013,” the document reads.
The document ends with the name of Fidel Narvaez Narvaez, identified as “Consul of Ecuador in London.”
Ecuador’s embassy in London is where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has taken refuge to avoid extradition to Sweden over sexual assault allegations.
On Wednesday Galo Galarza, a senior foreign ministry official in Quito, denied that Ecuador had given a travel document to Snowden.
“This is not true. There is no passport, no document that was delivered by any Ecuadoran consulate,” Galarza told reporters.
“He doesn’t have a document supplied by Ecuador like a passport or a refugee card as has been mentioned,” Galarza said.
Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said earlier during a visit to Malaysia that it could take weeks to decide whether to grant asylum to Snowden.
But he later backpedaled, writing on Twitter that reporters had misinterpreted him and that it could take “one day, one week or, like it happened for Assange, it could take two months.”
Russian officials say that Snowden has been in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo airport since arriving on a flight from Hong Kong Sunday, even though he has not been seen there, and that he is free to travel.