By Marcello Ferrada de Noli
I have carefully listened to the interview – conducted in Spanish – of President Rafael Correa with the Guardian on the “Snowden saga”, also focused in the role of the WikiLeaks founder Mr Julian Assange. Frankly, I became astonished realizing the extent to which the answers of Rafael Correa were misrepresented by the Guardian, and subsequently by other MSM. Instead of what it has been reported, Ecuador has never retracted of their positive statements on whisteblower Edward Snowden, or on their openness to study his asylum. Correa affirms clearly that Ecuador has not “negated” the safe-conduct issued to Mr Snowden. He also says emphatically that “Mr Assange continues to enjoy our total respect”
The Presidency of Ecuador has now published a videotape with the actual interview
The Guardian headed the article reporting the interview “Rafael Correa: we helped Snowden by mistake” 2013-07-02. Thereafter the article has been successively changed by the Guardian fifteen times! See links down below
In front of the incumbent peril of extradition of Mr Edward Snowden to the U.S. from Hong Kong, the one and only important thing about saving whistle-blower Snowing was to obtain his exit to Moscow, where he could formalize petitions of political asylum. This positive outcome was no doubt the work of Mr Julian Assange (and his organization WikiLeaks), who also took the initiative of contacting the Ecuadorian Consul in London – in the middle of the night – about the precarious and risky situation of Mr Snowden in Hong Kong. That Mr Assange succeeded, together with the Ecuadorian consul, in finding a solution for Mr Snowden’s situation, is a fact that only brings relief and gladness to all those engaged in preserving the human rights. Amongst these, the Ecuadorian people and government, and also many others in Latin America. See for instance the declarations of the governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
The safe-conduct worked out. That is the main thing and period. Whether – at the moments it was issued, in the middle of a crisis-situation (as acknowledged later by President Correa, see below) – the safe-conduct was or not released strictly according to formalities of this or that protocol is less than an “academic discussion”.
That Mr Assange and the WikiLeaks people moved that promptly – and with proven efficacy, judging by the results – it is a good thing that no one in the Ecuadorian government could be sorry for. And indeed they are not.
I have carefully listened to the interview – conducted in Spanish – of President Rafael Correa with The Guardian on the “Snowden saga”, focused in the role of the WikiLeaks founder Mr Julian Assange. Frankly I was astonished when realizing to which extent the “declarations” of Rafael Correa as presented in The Guardian’s reports, were in fact misrepresentations of what the Ecuadorian president actually expressed. These misrepresentations – mainly quotes “out of context”, as Correa would say afterwards – were in fact repeated by the rest of the conspicuous MSM. The Washington Post, for instance, partly sourced an own article (Ecuador’s strange journey from embracing Snowden to turning him away) on what the Guardian had reported of the interview – but not checking the interview itself.
One “breaking news” circulated by the MSM after the heading in the Guardian’s article “Rafael Correa: we helped Snowden by mistake“, it was that Correa would have declared that the safe-conduct given to Mr Edward Snowden for his travelling from Hong-Kong to Moscow was “an error”. Amazing. It was not that what Correa is saying in the context (listen to videotape above).
Namely, what Correa is stating is that it is an error to affirm that Ecuador “negated” afterwards the salvo-conduct given to Snowden. Further, any Spanish-speaking listener would appropriate testify, after to have listened to what Correa is actually answering in the interview, that the Ecuadorian president is saying exactly the opposite. Correa says expressly, “No es que hemos negado el salvo-conducto” (It is not so, that we have negated the safe-conduct”].
Also, very many in the international media commented that Correa, and the entirely Ecuadorian government, were to say the least upset with Julian Assange, or “angry”, for his role in the helping of Edward Snowden. In fact, president Correa said quite the contrary.
For instance, the journalist in the actual interview puts a leading question on that if president Correa thinks “Assange abusó de la confianza del gobierno (de Ecuador)”. Far from that, Rafael Correa explained instead the context in where Mr Assange made the declarations he did, that he can understand Assange’s concern for Edward Snowden’s situation. President Correa says in the interview very clear about that subject, “we understand the situation perfectly and Mr Assange continues to enjoy our total respect”.
And regarding other international dispatches on that the Ecuadorian government was “furious” also with their own Consul in the UK, whom would have even “received a reprimand”: Not at all. Rafael Correa refers in the interview with Rory Caroll that he said to the Consul – and mentioning the context of previous experiences in which Ecuadorian consulates abroad had hastily to issue safe-conducts, historically for instance in Czechoslovakia to save Jews from persecution – , “If you think you were doing the correct thing, I respect your decision”. He also says that he regards the Consul as “a very cultivated person”.
So, in my interpretation, one thing is the clear ethical AND political stance of Correa and the Ecuadorian government on the issue of the safe-conduct issued to Mr Snowden to facilitate his travelling from Hong Kong to Moscow. Another thing – and also made clear by Ecuador- is the respect to international conventions on those matters that they do observe in normal conditions (the above was in a “crisis”, as characterized by Correa in the interview), which is an abiding-behaviour they of course pursue and also have to show to the international community. Ecuador means for instance that in “normal” conditions safe-conducts are issued with the government’s fully awareness and formal authorization. Which was not the case in the issuing of this particular one (a thing that the Consul has “to be accountable for”) But the truth is that the Ecuadorian government is not negating it a posteriori, because some formalities were nor met when issued.
The journalist took up the item that the Ecuadorian government – according to press reports – was full aware of such safe-conduct since the beginning, and that they would have changed their minds “only five days later”. President Correa called that information “a lie”. With those words, and emphatically. He also has asked for the proof behind such information, which by the way he never got it. To the best of my knowledge, no one of these items were ever published by the international MSM.
Jaraparilla @jaraparilla sent the following comment
Great work as always Professor.
In fact the Guardian edited this story at least once to make it sound WORSE that the original (which was bad enough) and then only fixed their text after President Correa complained.
The most misleading change was the headline, which went from:
“Rafael Correa Says Ecuador Helped Edward Snowden By Mistake”
“Rafael Correa Not Considering Snowden Asylum: Helping Him Was A ‘Mistake'”
To the final version:
“Ecuador says it blundered over Snowden travel document.”
You can see the full text changes at my blog: http://jaraparilla.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/how-guardian-twists-president-correas.html
We should all ask why The Guardian newspaper created this deliberate misrepresentation. Cui bono???
And of course this is just the most recent in a long string of misleading Guardian articles about Assange and Ecuador.
And Rory Carroll and Alan Rusbridger (Guardian EIC) owe the President of Ecuador an apology. Carroll should be taken off the Latin American beat immediately.
@crockettoo_ also sent a valuable link with a transcription of 14 different versions of the Guardian article