QUITO - Ecuador's President Rafael Correa on Tuesday backtracked on an offer of residency to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, insisting no such invitation has been extended.
"There has been no formal offer to the director of WikiLeaks," Correa told a news conference in the coastal city of Guayaquil. "That was a personal remark by the deputy foreign minister; he did not have my authorization."
Ecuador raised eyebrows Monday by offering Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who has enraged Washington by releasing masses of classified U.S. documents, residency with no questions asked.
"We are ready to give him residence in Ecuador, with no problems and no conditions," Deputy Foreign Minister Kintto Lucas told the Internet site Ecuadorinmediato.
"We are going to invite him to come to Ecuador so he can freely present the information he possesses and all the documentation, not just over the Internet but in a variety of public forums," he said.
On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said Quito was interested in WikiLeaks information related to Latin America.
But he stressed that any residency for Assange would require legal review in the event he requested it.
"We are interested in finding out about information he may have; we are interested in the information," Patino said. "I think it is legitimate for a government like ours and for the Ecuadoran people to want to find out what has happened as relates to our country."
The United States, for its part, has a criminal investigation underway into the release of some 250,000 diplomatic cables, the most recent of three huge document dumps by the self-styled whistle-blower website.