BOGOTA, Colombia — The leftist government of Ecuador, under pressure from the Obama administration for considering a request for sanctuary from the American intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, announced Thursday that it will back out of a preferential trade pact with the United States that top Ecuadoran officials say is being used to blackmail their country.
The move, which President Rafael Correa’s government described as unilateral, came a day after the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee pledged to do all he could to block trade benefits for Ecuador should it grant Snowden political asylum.
“Our government will not reward countries for bad behavior,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said in a statement Wednesday. “Trade preferences are a privilege granted to nations, not a right.”
Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who is presumed to be in Moscow, has asked for asylum in Ecuador. While the government has made no decision in response to the request, Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño voiced sympathy for the 30-year-old fugitive in lengthy comments Monday.