• Spain's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Morales lands in Spain after Snowden saga

AFP/The Local · 3 Jul 2013, 10:48

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.

Story continues below…

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
Transparency can prevent 'stupid' accusations - Nadal
"I believe in my sport, that is the most important thing, I believe my rivals are clean, our sport is clean," said Nadal. Photo: AFP

Fourteen-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal believes his call for all his anti-doping tests throughout his career to be released to the public is the only way to end the scourge of doping accusations in tennis.

Feeding frenzy in Spain's renewable energy sector
Sun aplenty and wind-swept regions make the country an ideal candidate for renewables. Photo: AFP

A wind of change is blowing on Spain's renewables: companies and investment funds have been on a buying spree, taking advantage of the know-how and growth prospects of a sector still limping out of a crisis.

Barcelona city proposes new tourist tax on 'day trippers'
Tourists taking photos of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Photo: AFP

Tourists not planning to stay overnight in Barcleona could soon have to pay a tax to visit the city...

Recipe: Pisto Manchego - a Spanish veggie delight
Pisto Manchego. Photo: thespanishcuisine.com

Vegetarians sometimes struggle in meat-loving Spain, but this Spanish ratatouille is a hit for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

Ibiza bans drinking in street…  and that includes water
Police will be on the look out for offending tourists. Photo: AFP

This summer tourists in Ibiza risk dehydration or a fine under new measures that will see the drinking of all liquids banned from public areas.

What's on in Spain: May 2016
The San Isidro fiestas in Madrid. Photo: Bru Garcia/AFP.

Spaniards are eager to get out and enjoy the spring weather in May, taking to the streets to throw fiesta after fiesta.

Eurovision bans Basque flag alongside that of Isis terrorists
The ikurriña - the Basque flag - has been banned. Photo: Rober/Flickr

The popular singing contest has banned the flag of the Basque Country, angering politicians who have demanded the "boycott" be lifted.

'Troll' wins payout from family of missing Spanish boy
Yéremi Vargas vanished in March 2007. Photo from Missing Person's poster

The parents of Yéremi Vargas named and shamed an internet troll after nasty comments about their missing son. And now they are being punished.

Brace yourself: Fierce storms to hit Spanish Med at weekend
A couple stand on a beach in Spain during a storm. Archive photo: Josep Lago / AFP

Spain's national weather agency is forecasting heavy rain on Friday and Saturday along the Mediterranean coast.

Spain in tug-of-war with Lorca family over poet's archive
Lorca was shot during the Spanish Civil War. Photo: AFP

The Spanish authorities have banned the export of the poet's archive.

Sponsored Article
How to launch your international career
National
Expats didn't 'abandon' UK so ALL Brits should get EU vote
Sponsored Article
What's the best way for expats to transfer money abroad?
Travel
Discover Spain's breathtaking national parks
National
Spain's stunning locations for Game of Thrones Season Six
National
Couple caught on camera having sex on metro platform
National
Ten delicious Spanish dishes you must try before you die
National
Forget tampons and use sea sponges, says Catalan town
Culture
Nine reasons why Cervantes is better than Shakespeare
International
Two thirds of Spaniards want Britain to remain in EU
National
Seven great ways to celebrate 400 years of Cervantes
National
Report raises fears of Isis terror plot on Costa del Sol
National
Five bonkers ways Spain is commemorating Cervantes
National
Bad owners to sweep streets in Madrid's war on dog poo
Culture
Ten weird things that shock Spaniards about the UK
Features
Debunking the myth: How true are Spanish stereotypes?
International
Bienvenidos a Blighty: Spanish workers flock to UK
National
Spaniards design mattress to catch out love cheats
National
Spanish town fined for staging bizarre 'slippery swine' race
National
Fat man who crushed nativity donkey to death goes free
International
Consulate reveals weirdest requests from Brits abroad
Lifestyle
Recipe: How to make Spanish albóndigas in tomato sauce
National
First journalist punished over photos under Spain’s gag law
National
'Hug a Brit to stop Brexit' Europeans urged
National
Benidorm's Sticky Vicky, 72, retires from sexy magic show
3,082
jobs available