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Ecuador: 'Freedom of Expression' Basis for Snowden Asylum

Nation's foreign minister says NSA whistleblower request for safe harbor will be considered thoughtfully

- Jon Queally, staff writer

The South American country of Ecuador, where NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has reportedly made request for political asylum, says it considers the matter as one of "freedom of expression" and will consider the application on strict merits.

Ecuador's Foreign Mister Ricardo Patino speaks to reporters at a hotel during his visit to Vietnam Monday, June 24, 2013. Patino said that his government is analyzing an asylum request from Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor wanted for revealing classified secrets. (AP Photo/Tran Van Minh) "We are analyzing [the request] with a lot of responsibility," Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino told reporters through a translator at a hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam on Monday.

The request, he continued, "has to do with freedom of expression and the security of citizens around the world."

Asked if he was concerned about what offering Snowden asylum might do to his country's relationship with the United States, Patino said, "There are some governments that act more upon their own interests, but not us. We act upon our principles."

"We take care of human rights of the people," he added.

Ecuador and its president Rafael Correa have generated a reputation for protecting embattled journalists and whistleblowers since it granted Wikileaks founder Julian Assange asylum and has allowed him to remain under its protection for over a year inside its London embassy.

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