Ecuador Supports Snowden While Curbing Liberties

The foreign ministry of Ecuador recently confirmed it received a request for asylum, and described Snowden as "a man attempting to bring light and transparency to facts that affect everyone’s fundamental liberties."

Despite requests for extradition to the United States by the US State Department, Snowden has apparently managed to travel from Hong Kong to Russia despite a revoked passport. Snowden was a contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), and is accused of leaking information about a secret mass surveillance program to the media known as "PRISM."

To those familiar with the deterioration of speech rights in the country since Correa took office, Ecuador’s official praise of Snowden’s fight for "fundamental liberties" may seem especially hypocritical, given Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa’s heavy handed dealings with media since taking office in January, of 2007.

As early as May of his first year as President in 2007, Rafael Correa, audaciously and ironically had his security remove the editor of El Universo newspaper during an interview. The topic of the interview was freedom of speech.

Since then, he has been leading an assault on the press, including attacks on newspapers and books deemed unfriendly to his progressive policies. In addition to lawsuits, those accused have faced prison terms for their dissenting opinions.

Ecuador is also not unfamiliar with leaks involving classified information. On the 4th of April, 2011 United States ambassador Heather Hodges was removed from the country, after a State Department cable was leaked by Wikileaks, indicating that the state department suggested that a general appointed by President Correa “used his positions to extort bribes, facilitate human trafficking, misappropriate public funds, obstruct investigations and prosecutions of corrupt colleagues, and engage in other corrupt acts for personal enrichment.”

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