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Snowden stuck in Moscow: Public support falls

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden flew to Moscow from Hong Kong on Sunday. His ongoing presence in a Moscow airport may test the relationship between the United States and Russia. He faces U.S. charges of espionage for leaking secret government surveillance details.

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Ecuador exported $5.4 billion of oil, $166 million of cut flowers, $122 million of fruit and vegetables and $80 million of tuna to the United States under one of the trade programmes.

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While Ecuador could find other markets for its oil, ending the benefits could badly hurt the cut flower industry, which employs more than 100,000 workers, many of them women.

The logical route for Snowden to take out of Moscow - and one for which he at one point had a reservation - would be an Aeroflot flight to Havana and a connecting flight to Ecuador.

But Ecuador's foreign minister indicated a decision on Snowden's asylum request could take two months.

"It took us two months to make a decision on Assange so do not expect us to make a decision sooner this time," Foreign Minister Richard Patino said in Kuala Lumpur, referring to the founder of anti-secrecy group Wikileaks, Julian Assange.

He added that Ecuador would consider giving Snowden protection before that if he went to Ecuador's embassy - but Russian officials say Snowden does not have a visa to enter Russia.

Ecuador's acting foreign minister, standing in for Patino in Quito, was quoted by local media as saying on Wednesday that Ecuador had not given a temporary travel document to Snowden, contradicting Assange, who is holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

Assange told reporters on Monday that Ecuador had supplied Snowden with a "refugee document of passage".

"That's not true. There is no passport, no document that has been given (to Snowden) by any Ecuadorean consulate," the acting minister, Galo Galarza, said in comments posted on the website of Ecuador's Teleamazonas, a private television station.

Snowden, who worked as a systems administrator at a U.S. National Security Agency facility in Hawaii, was the source of disclosures about U.S. government surveillance that included details about a program that collected emails, chat logs and other types of data from companies such as Google Inc, Facebook Inc, Microsoft Corp and Apple Inc .

He has divided opinion in the United States, where many have been outraged by the extent of government snooping.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday showed that Americans were still more likely to view Snowden as a "patriot" rather than a "traitor," but also that public support for him had fallen during the past week.

More than a quarter of respondents said Snowden should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, up 3 percentage points from a week earlier. Just over one-third said he should not be prosecuted, down from a peak of more than 40 percent last week.

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