Updated: 06/24/2013 01:13 | By Agence France-Presse

Snowden seeks asylum in Ecuador: minister

Edward Snowden has asked for asylum in Ecuador, its foreign minister said Sunday as the ex-NSA contractor seeks to escape US justice for revealing a vast phone and Web snooping drive.

Snowden seeks asylum in Ecuador: minister

A woman walks past a banner displayed in support of former US spy Edward Snowden in Hong Kong on June 18, 2013. Snowden has requested asylum in Ecuador, the Ecuadoran foreign minister said Sunday, as he seeks to escape US justice for revealing secrets of a vast phone and Web surveillance drive.

Ecuador is led by President Rafael Correa, an outspoken leftist, populist and critic of the United States in the mold of his late mentor Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

Ecuador has been sheltering WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at its London embassy for the past year.

Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino made the announcement of Snowden's asylum request on his Twitter account. He did so from Vietnam where he was on an official visit.

"The government of Ecuador has received an asylum request from Edward J. Snowden," Patino said.

Snowden arrived Sunday in Moscow from Hong Kong, where he first fled with a trove of secrets taken from the National Security Agency.

Snowden was charged with espionage by the US authorities last week.

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