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Ecuador 'analysing' Snowden asylum request

Ecuador has said it has received a request for political asylum from Edward Snowden, the fugitive US intelligence contractor who is currently in the Russian capital Moscow, adding that the application is still being "analysed" with no decisions taken yet.  Snowden, who is believed to be in the transit area of  Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport as he does not have a Russian visa, is expected to fly to Ecuador via Cuba provided he gets a positive reply to his asylum request.

Meanwhile, the White House asked the Russian government to "look at all options available" to send Snowden back to the US to face espionage charges.

Snowden, who has revealed secret documents on US internet and phone surveillance activities, flew from Hong Kong to Moscow on Sunday and was reported to have met the Ecuadorean ambassador in the Russian capital after applying for asylum.

An airport source told the Interfax news agency that "transit passenger" Snowden had remained within the airport. "He would not be able to leave the airport even in a diplomatic car as he has neither a standard nor a diplomatic visa," the official said.

Russian media also cited sources within Russian airline Aeroflot as saying Snowden would fly onwards to Cuba on Monday. The SU 150 flight to Havana leaves at 10:05GMT.

During an official visit to Vietnam, Ecuador's foreign minister Ricardo Patino said: "We will make a decision... we are analysing it."

"It [the request] has to do with freedom of expression and the security of citizens around the world. We always act by principle not in our own interest. There are some governments who act more on their own interests, we do not."

Earlier, Patino wrote on Twitter that Snowden had applied for asylum.

Meanwhile, anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks said in a sytatement, "Mr Snowden ... is bound for the Republic of Ecuador via a safe route for the purposes of asylum, and is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisers from WikiLeaks."

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is currently sheltered by Ecuador's embassy in London as he fights extradition to Sweden on sex assault charges, which might also lead him to be sent to the US, where he faces charges similar to Snowden's.

Snowden's application came days after Washington charged him with spying and espionage following his leak to western newspapers of the Prism spying programme run by his former employer, the National Security Agency.

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