Published June 30, 2013
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange acknowledged Sunday that NSA leaker Edward Snowden appears to be "marooned in Russia," as Ecuador's president also said the international fugitive is indeed in Russia's hands.
"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," Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa told The Associated Press. "At this moment he's under the care of the Russian authorities."
Despite Russia's repeated claims that Snowden is not technically in their territory, Correa said "this is the decision of Russian authorities."
Snowden is said to be in the transit zone of the Moscow airport. He has a standing request for asylum with Ecuador, and Correa said that if he arrives at an Ecuadorean embassy, the country will analyze that request.
But following reports that Ecuador had revoked refugee documents that potentially could have been used to get Snowden to South America, Correa confirmed that the Ecuadorean consul in London committed "a serious error" by initially issuing the letter of safe passage for Snowden. He said the consul would be punished, though he didn't specify how.
With Snowden carrying no documents from Ecuador and no U.S. passport, Assange, whose group is helping the former U.S. contractor evade extradition to the U.S., affirmed that Snowden has entered a state of limbo.
Assange blamed the United States for stripping Snowden of his U.S. passport, in turn curbing his ability to travel. Assange said on ABC's "This Week" that "for the moment" Snowden appears to be stuck in Russia.
But he also said the steady trickle of intelligence leaks to the media will not be stopped.
"There is no stopping the publishing process at this stage," he said, adding "great care" has been taken to ensure that.
Snowden flew out of Hong Kong last weekend and landed in Moscow, originally with plans to catch another flight, possibly to Havana, Cuba. But he ended up stuck in the transit zone, where U.S. officials believe he remains today.
Obama administration officials continue to plead with Russian officials to intervene and extradite him, though Russian officials claim he is not their problem.
Meanwhile, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who has been critical of Snowden, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that it's "fine with me" if Snowden simply stays at the Moscow airport.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.