QUITO, Ecuador — Ecuador's president said Wednesday that media coverage of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden is distracting the world from the surveillance programs that Snowden revealed.
President Rafael Correa made his strongest comments to date about the case on Twitter in response to a Washington Post editorial that referred to him as "the autocratic leader of tiny, impoverished Ecuador" and accused him of a double standard for welcoming a whistleblower while allegedly stifling critics at home.
"They've managed to focus attention on Snowden and on the 'wicked' countries that 'support' him, making us forget the terrible things against the U.S. people and the whole world that he denounced."
"The world order isn't only unjust, it's immoral," Correa continued, taking an aggressive new rhetorical tack on the case.
Ecuador's acting foreign minister, Galo Galarza, told state television Wednesday that his country hadn't issued Snowden any travel documents that would make it easier for him to travel in the absence of his U.S. passport, which has been annulled.
"He doesn't have any document issued by Ecuador such as a passport or refugee card," Galarza said.
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, threatened Ecuador's trade arrangements with the United States if it grants asylum to Snowden. Menendez urged Russia to hand him over to the United States.
"Edward Snowden is a fugitive who has endangered the national security of the United States. His actions merit prosecution, not praise," Menendez said in a statement.
"Our government will not reward countries for bad behavior. If Snowden is granted asylum in Ecuador, I will lead the effort to prevent the renewal of Ecuador's duty-free access under GSP and will also make sure there is no chance for renewal of the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act."
The Generalized System of Preferences, or GSP, provides preferential duty-free entry for up to 5,000 products when imported from one of 127 designated beneficiary countries and territories, according to the U.S. Trade Representative.