Former CIA employee Edward Snowden has filed a request for asylum in Ecuador, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño said Monday.

The 30-year-old Snowden cited "danger of persecution" by the U.S. government in his asylum request, Patiño said in a videoconference from Hanoi, where he is on an official trip.

"The United States is intercepting the majority of the communications in the world," Snowden said in a letter read by the foreign minister.

Snowden, who fled to Hong Kong in early June after leaking documents about two top-secret National Security Agency surveillance programs to Britain's Guardian newspaper and The Washington Post, asked Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa for political asylum.

The former CIA technician and NSA contractor flew from Hong Kong to Russia on Sunday, a day after the United States requested his extradition on espionage and other charges.

Snowden could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

Hong Kong's government said it rejected the extradition request because the United States did not fully comply with the region's laws.

WikiLeaks said in a Twitter posting that it helped Snowden leave Hong Kong and seek "political asylum in a democratic country," but it did not say where the former intelligence operative was headed.

Quito granted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange asylum last year, but he is still in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London awaiting a safe conduct guarantee from Great Britain.

Snowden has admitted releasing details about the secret surveillance programs, but he denies being a traitor. EFE