To avoid ‘blackmail’ over Snowden, Ecuador quits US trade deal

Ecuador quits U.S. trade deal to avoid ‘blackmail’ over Snowden
By Chris Kraul and Pablo Jaramillo Viteri
June 27, 2013, 8:55 a.m.

QUITO, Ecuador — Ecuador on Thursday announced it was withdrawing from a 2-decade-old trade pact with the United States, saying the agreement left the South American nation vulnerable to “blackmail” as U.S. officials seek the return of fugitive Edward Snowden.

The trade agreement was already at risk of not being renewed by the U.S. Congress before Ecuador began weighing whether to grant asylum to Snowden, the former contract worker for the National Security Agency who recently revealed extensive U.S. tracking of telephone communications and then fled from Hawaii to Hong Kong.

Snowden, 30, is now believed to be holed up at the transit section of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport while seeking a route to Ecuador or somewhere else that might grant him shelter.

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