Russia will decide the destination of fugitive U.S. intelligence analyst Edward Snowden, who is currently holed up in Moscow, Ecuador President Rafael Correa said over the weekend, according to the AFP news agency.
"To process the asylum application, (Snowden) must be in Ecuadoran territory," the president was quoted as having said in an interview with the private Oromar channel.
"At this moment, the solution of Snowden's destination is in the hands of Russian authorities," he added.
Snowden, who faces espionage charges in the U.S. over his revelations about a vast surveillance program, has been in Moscow's international airport since arriving from Hong Kong last Sunday.
The ex-contractor for the National Security Agency, whose passport has been revoked, has requested asylum in Ecuador.
"We have not sought out this situation. Snowden is in contact with (WikiLeaks founder Julian) Assange, who recommended he seek asylum in Ecuador," Correa said, according to AFP.
The president said his government would listen to opinions from U.S. authorities, but that the final decision rested with Ecuador.
On Saturday, Correa spoke with Vice President Joe Biden on the topic, making many of the same points, reported AFP.
In his weekly address, Correa said Biden had asked Ecuador to reject the asylum request.
Last week, the White House urged Russia to expel Snowden without delay, saying Moscow has a "clear legal basis" for his expulsion.
On Friday, Snowden’s father said in an interview that while he has not had recent contact with his son, he is reasonably confident his son would return to the United States if certain conditions were met.
Snowden said he has told Attorney General Eric Holder through his lawyer that his son will probably return home if the Justice Department promises not to detain him before a trial nor subject him to a gag order. He also wants his son to choose where a trial would take place.