Edward Snowden is fast becoming a hot potato nobody wants to handle. Russia does not want him – so he can’t leave the legally-grey area of the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on foot. He could fly away – that is Putin’s preferred solution and, indeed, it seems that he now has travel papers, after Ecuador granted him a “safe pass” for temporary travel, according to images of travel documents posted by Spanish language Univision late on Wednesday.

But Snowden’s flight path to the apparent safety of possible political asylum in another country, such as Venezuela (which has offered the possibility) or Ecuador (which has said it would consider it), is blocked by a problem. All commercial flights between Moscow and Quito or Caracas touch down in third countries with which the US has extradition agreements. And that includes Cuba. Read more

Rafael Correa (Getty)

Julian Assange’s decision to seek refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy is not as strange as it seems. In May, Mr Assange interviewed Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, for Russia Today, a Kremlin-backed television channel. Both men laughed and smiled as they shared their anti-US views — in his six years as president, Mr Correa has booted out a US ambassador and a US army base — and also their partial ideas about media freedom. Mr Assange once wanted to censor his own biography. Mr Correa has developed a government media empire, while clamping down on critical independents. Read more