Julian Assange: Edward Snowden is ‘marooned in Russia’

On Sunday, two of his strongest supporters — Julian Assange of WikiLeaks and President Rafael Correa of Ecuador — said it was unlikely that Snowden would leave there anytime soon.

“The United States, by canceling his passport, has left him for the moment marooned in Russia,” said Assange, whose anti-
secrecy organization has aided Snowden in his flight.

The United States canceled Snowden’s passport a week ago, after he was charged with espionage. Assange criticized that decision on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos”: “To take a passport from a young man in a difficult situation like that is a disgrace,” he said.

And in Ecuador on Sunday, Correa seemed to play down the chances that his country could offer Snowden a way out. For now, Correa told the Associated Press, Snowden was “under the care of the Russian authorities.”

“This is the decision of Russian authorities. He doesn’t have a passport. I don’t know the Russian laws. I don’t know if he can leave the airport, but I understand that he can’t,” Correa said. He said the case was out of Ecuador’s hands. “If [Snowden] arrives at an Ecuadoran embassy, we’ll analyze his request for asylum.”

Snowden’s escape plan was never a simple one. After first making himself one of the most wanted men in the world, he was attempting to hopscotch 11,000 miles from Hong Kong to Russia to Ecuador — perhaps with a stopover in Cuba.

To do it, he would have to stay ahead of U.S. law enforcement and a pack of news media — and to count on the caprices of three (or four) foreign governments.

Snowden made it one stop. He flew from Hong Kong to Moscow a week ago, apparently on his U.S. passport. It had already been revoked, but Hong Kong authorities said they had not received the official request from the U.S. government.

Now, Snowden’s flight has brought him to the transit area of Sheremetyevo International Airport. And to a dwindling set of options.

One is simply staying in the airport. If Snowden is not being detained by Russian authorities — and Russian officials have said that he is not — he could remain in an area reserved for international travelers making connections. As long as he does not go through passport control, Russian officials say, he would not legally cross into Russian territory.

If he wants to leave, however, Snowden would need travel documents to replace his canceled passport.

Earlier, it appeared that Ecuadoran officials might be willing to help him with this. On June 22, the Ecuadoran Embassy in London issued a safe-conduct pass in his name. (Assange himself is holed up at the same embassy, avoiding extradition to Sweden for questioning over allegations of sexual abuse).

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