South American states angered at diversion of Morales flight
Bolivia seeks explanation after plane rerouted amid concerns it carried US whistleblower
Bolivian vice president Alvaro Garcia described Mr Morales as being “kidnapped by imperialism” in Europe.
On Monday, Morales, who was attending an energy conference in Moscow, was asked in an interview on the Russia Today television network if he would consider giving asylum to Mr Snowden, 30, who has been holed up at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport for more than a week, his passport revoked by the United States.
“Yes, why not?” Mr Morales responded. “Of course, Bolivia is ready to take in people who denounce - I don’t know if this is espionage or monitoring. We are here.”
He said, though, that Bolivia had not received a request from Mr Snowden, despite news reports to the contrary. It was already clear by then that the Moscow conference had been overshadowed by the saga of Mr Snowden and his disclosures about American intelligence programs, which have deeply embarrassed the Obama administration.
On Monday, Portugal, without explanation, had withdrawn permission for Mr Morales’ plane to stop in Lisbon to refuel, the foreign minister said. That forced Bolivian officials to get permission from Spain to refuel in the Canary Islands.
The next day, after taking off from Moscow, Mr Morales’ plane was just minutes from entering French airspace, according to Mr Saavedra, when the French authorities informed the pilot that the plane could not fly over France.
There was also plenty of confusion in Moscow over how Mr Snowden could possibly have left undetected on a government aircraft. Government planes carrying foreign officials to diplomatic meetings in Moscow typically arrive and depart from Vnukovo Airport, which is also the main airfield used by the Russian government, rather than at Sheremetyevo, where Snowden arrived from Hong Kong on June 23 hours after US officials had sought his extradition there.
The speculation that Mr Snowden would hitch a ride on a government jet was discounted by the fact that the plane would have to first make a quick flight from one Moscow airport to the other.
In an interview with the television station Russia Today, Mr Maduro said that he would consider any request by Snowden. Then, ending the interview with a dash of humor, he said, “It’s time for me to go; Snowden is waiting for me.”
Leaks by Mr Snowden, a former NSA systems analyst, have revealed the sweeping data collection of US phone records and some Internet traffic, although U.S. intelligence officials have said the programs target foreigners and terrorist suspects mostly overseas.
AP/New York Times