Snowden has requested for asylum in Ecuador, says minister

QUITO, Ecuador (AFP) -  Edward Snowden has requested asylum in Ecuador, the Ecuadoran Foreign Minister said on Sunday, as the former United States National Security Agency contractor seeks to escape US justice for revealing secrets of a vast phone and Web surveillance drive.

Ecuador is led by President Rafael Correa, an outspoken leftist, populist and critic of the US in the mold of his late mentor Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

Ecuador has been sheltering WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at its London embassy for the past year.

Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino made the announcement of Snowden’s asylum request on his Twitter account. He did so from Vietnam where he was on an official visit.

“The government of Ecuador has received an asylum request from Edward J. Snowden,” Mr Patino said.

Snowden arrived on Sunday in Moscow from Hong Kong, where he first fled with a trove of secrets taken from the National Security Agency.

He was charged with espionage by the US authorities last week.