Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has sent his regards to fugitive former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, telling him to "keep his spirits high."
Correa, whose country has frequently been mentioned as a likely destination for Snowden, said the U.S whistle-blower’s fate is currently in the hands of Russia.
Snowden was last seen disembarking from a plane at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on June 23 and is believed to still be in the transit area there.
Correa said it is up to Russia to decide whether to allow Snowden to leave Moscow. He added that the Ecuadorean government cannot consider Snowden’s asylum until he reaches Ecuador or an Ecuadorean embassy.
Snowden is accused of leaking information on U.S. surveillance efforts worldwide.
Snowden briefly was in Hong Kong before leaving for Moscow.
Earlier, Correa said U.S. Vice President Joe Biden had asked Ecuador to reject any asylum request from Snowden.
Correa said Ecuador will consult with Washington about the case but will make its own decision about whether to grant Snowden asylum.
Correa revealed his discussion with Biden the same day a German magazine said it has seen a secret U.S. document, reportedly provided by Snowden, indicating that the European Union was targeted for surveillance by U.S. spying programs.
The report in “Der Spiegel” said the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) bugged or otherwise collected communications from EU offices in Brussels, Washington, and the United Nations.
The spying included tapping into EU internal computer networks, giving the NSA access to e-mails and documents.
The report quoted a September 2010 confidential NSA document that it said Snowden had obtained.
In a written statement, European Parliament President Martin Schulz said he was shocked by the allegations and demanded a full clarification from Washington.
With reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, and spiegel.de