Ros-Lehtinen: Snowden Seeks Refuge with 'Chavez-Lite with Nicer Suits'

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) called it "pathetic" that NSA leaker Edward Snowden would try to find safe refuge in nations that trample free speech and press freedom.

The chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee originally heard Snowden was headed from Moscow to either Cuba or Venezuela, but the Ecuadoran foreign minister confirmed via Twitter yesterday that the former Booz Allen Hamilton contractor had petitioned for asylum in his country.

"In the Ecuador of Rafael Correa, editors and journalists pay huge fines and are sent to jail for articles or reports that supposedly injure Correa’s character. It's pathetic that whistleblower looks to press oppressor nations for transit and refuge," Ros-Lehtinen said.

"Correa is a well known friend of those who wish to bring harm to America. Last year, he offered WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange asylum," she continued. "Correa has also led the effort to try to weaken and undermine the Inter-American Human Rights Commission at the OAS.  The Obama Administration must let Correa know that his actions will have consequences and the Administration must not renew the trade preferences with Ecuador that expire next month."

WikiLeaks said in a statement yesterday that Snowden was bound for Ecuador "via a safe route for the purposes of asylum, and is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisors from WikiLeaks."

"The WikiLeaks legal team and I are interested in preserving Mr Snowden’s rights and protecting him as a person. What is being done to Mr Snowden and to Mr Julian Assange - for making or facilitating disclosures in the public interest - is an assault against the people," said former Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon, legal director of Wikileaks and lawyer for Assange.

Ros-Lehtinen said "the reality is that Correa is Chavez-lite with nicer suits but an oppressor of an independent press and an advocate for the weakening of democracy protecting institutions in our Hemisphere. ”