WASHINGTON – Pleading for asylum from U.S. officials he says want to persecute him, NSA leaker Edward Snowden told Ecuadorian officials that he fears a life of inhumane treatment — even death — if he’s returned the United States to answer espionage charges, the country’s foreign minister said Monday.
Snowden told Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa that it is “unlikely that I will have a fair trial or humane treatment” if handed over to U.S. officials to stand trial, according to a letter from Snowden read by Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino.
While Patino, speaking at a news conference in Vietnam, said the county has yet to decide on Snowden’s asylum request, he questioned whether it was Snowden or the United States that was acting badly in the affair.
He called the surveillance programs revealed by Snowden “a breach of the rights” of people around the world.
“We have to ask, who has betrayed who?” he said.
Snowden left Hong Kong on Sunday. Russian officials confirmed that he had flown to Moscow, where he spent the night at Sheremetyevo airport, according to media reports. It was unclear where he was Monday.
He had been expected to board a flight to Cuba on Monday, Russia’s semiofficial Interfax news agency reported. But a CNN journalist on a flight to Cuba said Snowden did not appear to be in the cabin. Interfax later reported that he did not board the plane and may be planning on taking the next flight to Cuba.
Officials at the airport declined Monday to say whether Snowden remained there.
Meanwhile, U.S. officials cast a wide net seeking his return, telling Russia and Latin American countries that they should hand Snowden over should he land on their soil.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday urged Russia to turn Snowden over.
“I would urge them to live by the standards of the law because that is in the interest of everybody,” he said.
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