Ecuador may be having second thoughts about its asylum practices. The Guardian (UK) says that President Correa is piqued about the UK embassy, where it appears Julian Assange may be running things.
The plan to spirit the surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden to sanctuary in Latin America appeared to be unravelling on Friday, amid tension between Ecuador's government and Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.
President Rafael Correa halted an effort to help Snowden leave Russia amid concern Assange was usurping the role of the Ecuadoran government, according to leaked diplomatic correspondence published on Friday.
Amid signs Quito was cooling with Snowden and irritated with Assange, Correa declared invalid a temporary travel document which could have helped extract Snowden from his reported location in Moscow.
Correa declared that the safe conduct pass issued by Ecuador's London consul – in collaboration with Assange – was unauthorised, after other Ecuadorean diplomats privately said the WikiLeaks founder could be perceived as "running the show".
Although The Guardian mentions only that Correa had revoked the safe pass, and that he claimed it was unauthorized, Univision says that's false -- that they have proof Correa had initially approved the documents, but then backed off.
In an ironic twist, Univision used metadata attached to an electronic copy of the safe pass to verify that it was composed at the work computer of Javier Mendoza, the Ecuadorian deputy consul in London (see photo above). Mendoza has acted as an intermediary for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is wanted in Sweden in connection with sexual assault allegations, but maintains that U.S. authorities are hunting him for Wikileaks' political activities.
Metadata also showed that the Snowden pass was last edited, for 48 minutes, by the consul in London, Fidel Narvaez.
Ecuadorian Press Secretary Betty Tola did not directly address the pass' authenticity but told Univision today that "any document in this regard is not valid and is the sole responsibility of the person who has issued [it]," suggesting that the London consulate might have acted alone in issuing it.
That does not appear to be the case, however. According to communications obtained by Univision, Narvaez wrote the pass at President Correa's request, and the consul recounted speaking directly with the president about the "unique circumstances" of Snowden's case.
After the pass was revealed publicly, sources tell Univision, Correa instructed his staff to deny any role in its creation. "The official position is that the Ecuadorian government has NOT authorized any pass for anybody," those instructions read. "Any document that exists about has no validity."
Hoist by their own metadata, one might say.