Snowden seeks asylum in Ecuador: minister

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