• Spain edition
 
Morales lands in Spain after Snowden saga
Ukrainian activists protest in Kiev on June 27th about the violation of rights in the US Internet surveillance program exposed by Edward Snowden. File photo: Sergie Supinksy/AFP

Morales lands in Spain after Snowden saga

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

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Catalonia crisis
Spaniards urge PM to give ground on Catalonia: Poll
Supporters of independence for Catalonia and Republicans celebrates the Spanish King Juan Carlos abdication during a demonstration at Plaza Catalunya in Barcelona on June 2nd. Photo: Quique García/AFP

Spaniards urge PM to give ground on Catalonia: Poll

Nearly two thirds of Spaniards believe the Spanish prime minister should veto an independence vote in the country's Catalonia region and look at constitutional reforms to solve the political crisis in the region, new poll results show. The figures come on the same day as the prime minister is set to hold talks with the Catalan leader. READ  

US family finds sunken Spanish treasure, again
Gold coins making up part of the cargo of the 19th-century Spanish warship the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes. File photo: Spanish Ministry of Culture/AFP

US family finds sunken Spanish treasure, again

A family of treasure hunters in Florida say they found a golden pyx - a eucharist case - from a shipwrecked 16th century Spanish galleon, local media reported on Tuesday. READ  

Spain grows 0.6 percent in second quarter

Spain grows 0.6 percent in second quarter

The Spanish economy grew 0.6 percent from April to June, or one decimal point more than initial Bank of Spain estimates, official figures released on Wednesday show. READ  

Scandal-hit ex-Catalan boss stripped of pension
Three of Jordi Pujol's sons are also under investigation for corruption and influence-trafficking, including Oriol Pujol, the only one of his offspring to enter politics. Photo: Quique García/AFP

Scandal-hit ex-Catalan boss stripped of pension

Catalonia's elder statesman, and a leading advocate of its independence from Spain, will be stripped of his pension and privileges after admitting hiding money abroad for more than 30 years, the region's government said on Tuesday. READ  

Spanish town  fights 'Fifty Shades' bondage hotel
Vilafranca’s town council representatives argue the bondage-themed hotel is "unsuitable" for the village. Photo of woman's legsShutterstock

Spanish town fights 'Fifty Shades' bondage hotel

Spain's first bondage-themed hotel - equipped with a massive dungeon and all the latest gear – has been stopped from opening its doors by the local village authorities. The Local talks to the businessman behind the project. READ  

Spanish police arrest 84 'Nigerian' scammers
Photo: Spanish National Police

Spanish police arrest 84 'Nigerian' scammers

Spanish police have arrested more than 80 people who laundered money obtained by cheating at least 4,500 people out of money, mostly via so-called Nigerian or '419' scams. READ  

Bullish Spain bumps up growth forecasts

Bullish Spain bumps up growth forecasts

Spain's government on Tuesday raised its growth forecasts for this year and next as the country pulls away from economic crisis, and said it hopes this will soon cut into high unemployment. READ  

Spanish property
Spanish house prices to climb in 2016: S&P

Spanish house prices to climb in 2016: S&P

House prices in Spain will climb 2 percent in 2016 after hitting rock bottom in 2015, the ratings agency Standard & Poors predicts in a new report released on Tuesday. READ  

Spaniards score high in beach topless ratings

Spaniards score high in beach topless ratings

Spanish women are the world's second most likely nationality to bare their breasts on the beach, a global survey looking at people's holiday habits has found. READ  

'Jews aren't made to coexist': Spanish writer
Spanish writer Antonio Gala caps off his short op-ed piece by saying "I am not a racist". Photo: Alex Slocker/Flickr

'Jews aren't made to coexist': Spanish writer

A controversial writer is facing legal action from Madrid's Jewish community after writing an opinion piece in a leading Spanish daily in which he justified the expulsion of Jews throughout history on the basis that they aren't made to "coexist". READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
'We're going to occupy Gibraltar': radical union
National
Magaluf 'oral sex' bar shut down
What's On
What's on in Spain: August 2014
National
Top ten 'English' words made in Spain: Part two
Politics
Merkel snubs Catalonia's independence plans
International
Ancient graffiti proves Spain's Irish links
National
Underwater nightmare: man trapped for 20 hours in cave
What's On
Top Ten: Summer music festivals in Spain 2014
National
Risky business: Man snaps selfie during Running of the Bulls
International
Finland to house sub-zero Sagrada Familia
National
Scorcher: Summer's first heatwave hits Spain
Society
Spanish naturist paradise bans nudity by mistake
National
Airbnb fined €30,000 over 'illegal' apartments
National
VIDEO: Landing aborted in Barcelona 'near miss'
Culture
Top 10 Spanish locations to film Game of Thrones
Society
VIDEO: Man arrested after racist attack on Barcelona Metro
Culture
Sheikh to turn Barcelona bullring into mega-mosque
Culture
Spanish top model swaps catwalk for nunnery
Travel
Granada, not Grenada! Airline sued over mix-up
Culture
IN PICTURES: Spain's baby jumping festival
National
King Felipe of Spain: his life in pictures
National
Spanish pilots ordered to speak only English
Society
'How to stop kids being gay' books shock Spain
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
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

1,651
jobs available