News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. June 24, 2013: The Caribbean nation of Cuba and the South American nation of Ecuador, have both entered the spotlight over the man now dubbed the world’s most famous fugitive – U.S. whistleblower and former failed male model, Edward Joseph Snowden.
Snowden, 32, according to WikiLeaks, is set to make his way to Ecuador via Cuba tomorrow, after spending Sunday night in Russia.
The U.S.’ embargo remains on Cuba, which it dubs a terrorist state. Having Snowden pass through Cuba could only keep that title firmly in place.
Ecuador, though maintaining close ties based on mutual interests in maintaining democratic institutions; combating cannabis and cocaine; building trade, investment, and financial ties; cooperating in fostering Ecuador’s economic development with the U.S. has in the past rejected the Obama administration’s previous efforts at co-operation, and has been helping WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange avoid prosecution by allowing him to stay at its embassy in London. Hosting Snowden could further strain relations with Ecuador and the President Rafael Correa Delgado administration.
Snowden was previously in China where U.S. officials tried to extradite him. But Hong Kong officials said the US request did not fully comply with their laws on extradition.
The U.S. Justice Department for its part rejected that claim, saying its request met all of the requirements of the extradition treaty between the US and Hong Kong.
Snowden is a former technical contractor and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee who worked for Booz Allen Hamilton, a contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA), before leaking details of classified NSA mass surveillance programs to the press.
Snowden shared classified material on a variety of top-secret NSA programs, including the interception of US telephone metadata and the PRISM surveillance program, primarily with Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian, which published a series of exposés based on Snowden’s disclosures in June 2013. Snowden said the leaks were an effort “to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.”
Snowden’s alleged leaks are said to rank among the most significant breaches in the history of the NSA.
On June 14, 2013, US federal prosecutors filed a sealed complaint, made public on June 21st, charging Snowden with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified intelligence with an unauthorized person; the latter two allegations are under the Espionage Act.