• Spain's news in English
 

Morales lands in Spain after Snowden saga

Published: 03 Jul 2013 10:48 GMT+02:00

Morales' plane landed in Spain after 4pm this afternoon, Spanish media reported.

Bolivia's foreign minister on Tuesday denied that fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden was travelling with President Evo Morales in his plane, which had earlier been forced to land in Austria.

The Bolivian minister, David Choquehuanca, told reporters France and Portugal had closed their airspace to the presidential plane over the "huge lie" that Snowden was on board.

Defense Minister Ruben Saavedra said Italy had closed its airspace as well.

Snowden, a former IT contractor, has been the target of a US arrest warrant issued since Friday June 21st when he leaked details of massive US cyber-espionage programmes to the media.

On Wednesday, however, Spain opened a route home for Morales.

The President said that Spain's Ambassador in Austria, Alberto Carnero, had visited him at Vienna's airport in the morning and that the two of them had taken coffee together on the plane, Spanish media outlets reported on Wednesday.

They then set up the arrangements which will see Morales about to fly over Spanish airspace and make a technical stop in the Canary Islands, an event now taking place.

This version of events was, however, disputed by Spanish diplomatic sources.

These sources said the Spanish ambassador had mediated with Morales "all night" to persuade him to allow the Austrian authorities the examine the plane at the behest of the US, according to Spanish national daily El País.

"Bolivia has again requested overflight and a stopover and we granted it at 9.30am this morning," or 0730 GMT, a spokesman for the Spanish foreign ministry said.

Departure is expected soon.

Evo Morales had been on a visit to Moscow, where Snowden has been holed up in an airport transit area for more than a week.

"The president was forced to land in Vienna," said Choquehuanca, alleging that Morales's life had been put in danger by what he called a forced emergency landing.

"There were unfounded rumors that Mr Snowden may have been on board the aircraft. We have no idea who made up this huge lie."

The Bolivian leader was attending a meeting of natural gas-producing nations in Moscow and had met with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Earlier, Morales told Russian media his country would "debate and consider" granting political asylum to Snowden "if there were a request". 

Bolivia is one of 21 nations to which Snowden had applied for asylum, according to the anti-secrecy WikiLeaks website.

"Bolivia is there to shield the (accused), whether it is espionage or control. In either case, we are here to assist," Morales told Russia's state-run RT television in comments translated by the channel from Spanish.

Choquehuanca said Morales's plane had been scheduled to refuel in Portugal, but both Lisbon and then Paris denied overflight.

"Inexplicably we were informed (by Lisbon) that the overflight and landing permission had been cancelled,"  the top diplomat said.

The plane was re-routed to include a stop in Spain's Canary islands, but France then refused to allow overflight of its territory, Choquehuanca said.

"We would like to make it known that we are unhappy and upset because the President's life has been put in danger," he said.

Saavedra told Telesur news network that just an hour before entering France's airspace, the plane was told not to enter, with authorities citing unspecified technical reasons.

"They violated air traffic rights," a visibly upset Choquehuanca said, maintaining Morales' life had been in jeopardy.

"They are trying to intimidate us. This is discrimination," Choquehuanca argued.

France's foreign ministry said it could not immediately comment on the situation.

Some hours later, Saavedra told state media from Austria that France now had approved overflight by Morales's plane. An Austrian foreign ministry official said Morales would leave "early Wednesday" for La Paz.

Bolivia's leftist regional allies Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela rallied behind Morales, voicing outrage.

"This is an attack against President Morales's life," Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said.

"We must make ourselves heard to the European and US governments who are behind this outlandish and brutal, uncivilized attack, putting a president's life in danger."

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.es)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Ciudadanos gains as Podemos wanes
Albert Rivera, leader of Ciudadanos. Photo: AFP

Ciudadanos gains as Podemos wanes

The latest poll shows that newest political party, Ciudadanos – Citizens – which expanded from a regional Catalan party to a nationwide force early this year is now more popular than Podemos. READ  

Wine production
Wine: China overtakes France but Spain reigns
Vinyards in Samaniego, La Rioja. Photo: Cesar Manso / AFP

Wine: China overtakes France but Spain reigns

China now has the second-largest wine-growing area in the world after Spain, pushing France into third place, according to figures released Monday by the International Organisation of Vine and Wine. READ  

Woofs and wifi: Is this world's coolest church?
San Antón church in Madrid offers free wifi. Photo: Sara Houlison.

Woofs and wifi: Is this world's coolest church?

Nestled among the trendy cafes and shops of Madrid's Chueca neighbourhood is a church like no other, where you can browse the internet, confess via your iPad and bring along your pet poodle. Is San Anton the coolest church in the world? READ  

PM: Recovery threatened by political instability
Mariano Rajoy at a press conference in Seyne-Les-Alpes following GermanWings crash. Photo: Boris Horvat / AFP

PM: Recovery threatened by political instability

Spain's economic recovery is being threatened by political instability and the crisis in debt-plagued Greece, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Monday. READ  

Spain's arms firms fail to meet grade on ethics
A naval vessel christening ceremony in the Navantia shipyard near Cadiz. Photo: Jorge Guerrero / AFP.

Spain's arms firms fail to meet grade on ethics

Spanish defence companies failed to make passing grades in an analysis of ethics and corruption standards released by Transparency International UK on Monday. READ  

Nepal Earthquake
Spaniards still missing in Nepal after earthquake
A Nepali woman pictured among the devastation of Kathmandu after Saturday's earthquake. Photo: Prakash Singh/AFP

Spaniards still missing in Nepal after earthquake

Over 100 Spaniards are still unaccounted for after Saturday’s earthquake in the Himalayan nation, which left over 3,000 people dead, as the Spanish air force launches an evacuation mission for Spaniards trapped in the country. READ  

Sagrada Familia mass for Germanwings victims

Sagrada Familia mass for Germanwings victims

Over 1,000 people are expected to attend a memorial service to the victims of Germanwings flight 9525 in Barcelona’s iconic cathedral on Monday evening, just over a month after the disaster. READ  

My Spanish Career
'I've made a few enemies, even in Spain'
Delfin Mocache from Equatorial Guinea set up Diario Rombe in Valencia. Photo: Agustin Millan

'I've made a few enemies, even in Spain'

In the latest instalment of My Spanish Career The Local talks to Delfin Mocache, editor of Diario Rombe, one of the few media that openly criticises the political regime in his home country of Equatorial Guinea. READ  

Broken pinky disaster for Marquez in MotoGP
Marc Marquez during Argentina Grand Prix. Photo: Juan Mabromata / AFP

Broken pinky disaster for Marquez in MotoGP

MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez's participation in next weekend's Spanish Grand Prix is in doubt after he broke a finger during a crash in training, Spanish media reported on Saturday. READ  

Spain royals 'no longer untouchable'
Photo: AFP

Spain royals 'no longer untouchable'

A new tell-all book that details what led to Spanish king Juan Carlos giving up the throne would never have been published just a few years ago in a Spain still deferential to the royal family, experts said. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
King Juan Carlos led 'double-life' with lover
National
British expats fall victim to NHS clampdown
Travel
Benidorm: Cultural wonder of the world?
Features
Ten best UNESCO world heritage sites in Spain
Features
All the fun of the fair: Seville's Feria de Abril
Features
Happy book day! Top ten Spanish literary gifts
National
Off with her hair! Queen Letizia debuts new do
National
Barcelona bans tourists from famous market
Travel
Location tours start for 'Game of Thrones' fans
National
Top ten things to do in Castellón
First house sold by lottery ticket in Spain
National
Official: Francisco Franco was a dictator
National
Rockers pen 'We don't love Ryanair' ballad
National
Olives and vino at risk from climate change
National
Olé! Madonna orders tour bullfighting suits
National
Jihadists planned attacks in Spain: judge
Politics
Spain's 'Citizens' party fires up voters
Travel
'No pooing': village tells pilgrims in north Spain
National
Spain's newest export to France: Vultures
National
Spain gets first memorial stones to Nazi victims
National
What's on in Spain: April 2015
National
Town in shock at expat double murder
National
Brit family of four dead after Gibraltar stabbing
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
Priest arrested for exorcism on anorexic girl
National
Could this be Spain's own Maggie Thatcher?
National
Spain outstrips France and Italy in wine exports
National
What country is Catalonia most like?
International
Exposed: actress who faked Oscar glory
National
Brooms up! Quidditch casts its spell over Spain
Society
Ten phrases you'll only hear at work in Spain
International
Spanish crowned world's happiest language
National
Eight cool things the crisis did for Spain
Travel
Top Ten: Spain's best beaches for 2015
National
Euro property bargains up for grabs in Spain
What's On
Spain's craziest carnivals
National
Spanish town fights 'Fifty Shades' bondage hotel
International
Vinnie Jones teaches Spanish in hilarious ad
What's On
Ten golden rules for snagging a Spanish man
Property
House sales up for first year since crisis began
Gallery
The highs and lows of the Spanish property market
National
The five strangest things about Spaniards
International
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,288
jobs available
?>