US & Canada

US and Ecuador discuss Snowden's bid for asylum

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa speaks on a TV programme in El Aromo, Manabi, in front of giant screens showing Edward Snowden, 29 June
Image caption Mr Correa spoke on his TV programme on Saturday in front of giant screens showing Edward Snowden

The US vice-president has talked to Ecuador's leader by phone about fugitive ex-CIA analyst Edward Snowden's bid for asylum.

Joe Biden held talks with President Rafael Correa on Friday, the two countries confirmed.

According to Mr Correa, Mr Biden asked him to reject the request but Washington gave no details.

In a new development, a German magazine says a document leaked by Mr Snowden shows the US bugged EU offices.

Spiegel magazine says a September 2010 "top secret" document of the US National Security Agency outlines how the agency bugged offices and spied on EU internal computer networks in Washington and at the UN. The document explicitly referred to the EU as a "target", the magazine reports.

Mr Snowden is believed to be staying at a Moscow airport, having arrived nearly a week ago from Hong Kong, where he had been staying since he revealed details of top secret US surveillance programmes.

The US has charged him with theft of government property, unauthorised communication of national defence information and wilful communication of classified communications intelligence.

Each charge carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence.

'Thanks for calling'

Ecuador has said it is willing to consider Mr Snowden's request but only when he is physically in the Latin American country.

Mr Correa said on Saturday that Mr Biden had "passed on a polite request from the United States to reject the request".

He said he had told the US vice-president: "Mr vice-president, thanks for calling. We hold the United States in high regard. We did not seek to be in this situation. Do not get the idea that we are anti-American, as some ill-spirited media outlets are doing."

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Media captionThe BBC's Steve Rosenberg explores the hotel Edward Snowden is believed to be in

If Mr Snowden ever came to "Ecuadoran soil" with his request, he added, "the first people whose opinion we will seek is that of the United States".

The Ecuadorean president, a leftist economist who received a doctorate in the US, denied he was seeking to disrupt relations and said he had "lived the happiest days of my life" in the US.

White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said only that Mr Biden and Mr Correa had held a wide-ranging conversation.

Mr Snowden's father has said he believes his son would return to the US under certain conditions.

Lon Snowden asked for "ironclad assurances" his son's rights would be protected in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, seen by the BBC.

He asked his son not be held before trial nor subjected to a gag order, and be able to choose where he was tried.

CLICKABLE

Hawaii

20 May: Snowden flies from Hawaii to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong

5 June: From Hong Kong, Snowden discloses details of what he describes as a vast US phone and internet surveillance programme to the UK's Guardian newspaper.

Moscow

23 June: Snowden leaves Hong Kong on a flight to Moscow. He is currently thought to remain airside at Sheremetyevo airport.

Cuba

From Moscow, Snowden could fly to Cuba, en route to Ecuador, which has said it is "analysing" whether to grant him asylum.

Venezuela

Venezuela had also been considered a possible destination for Snowden, however it is thought he would only pass through on his way to Ecuador.

Ecuador

Snowden is reported to have requested asylum in Ecuador, which previously granted haven to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in its London embassy.

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