Spain apologizes to Bolivia in Snowden saga

Spain on Monday voiced regret at its diplomatic row with Bolivia, sparked when President Evo Morales' plane was blocked from Spanish airspace over suspicions US fugitive and intelligence leaker Edward Snowden was on the jet.

Spain apologizes to Bolivia in Snowden saga
US fugitive leaker Edward Snowden (C) meets rights activists, including Sarah Harrison of WikiLeaks (L), in Moscow on July 12th. Photo: Tanya Lokshina/Human Rights Watch/AFP

"Spain deeply regrets this and is sorry that it happened. We offer our apology and consider the matter closed," Spain's Ambassador to La Paz Miguel Angel Vasquez said after delivering a written note to the Foreign Ministry.

Bolivia has joined Venezuela and Nicaragua in offering asylum to Edward Snowden, the former IT contractor for the US National Security Agency who publicized details of US surveillance programs and is now on the run from espionage charges.

Earlier this month, during a flight home from Moscow, European authorities diverted Morales's plane to Austria and searched it after rumors he had Snowden on board.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua called the incident "an attack against President Morales's life," echoing earlier claims by Bolivia itself.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff expressed "indignation" over the treatment of Morales, calling it a "provocation" that concerned "all of Latin America."

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Spanish children rescued from Bolivian drug lords

Bolivian and Spanish police have rescued a three-month-old baby and his 11-year-old brother from a group of drug traffickers who held them in a bid to extort money from their mother.

Spanish children rescued from Bolivian drug lords
After a week of captivity, police located the children and arrested their four captors. File Photo: Aizar Raldes/AFP

The children’s mother, a Spanish national living in the Latin American country, was arrested prior to their kidnapping when she was trying to sell a kilo of cocaine in her home region of Murcia.

According to Spanish daily El Mundo, she had already made €16,000 from drug sales.

The kidnappers, thought to be local drug traffickers, took the two children from a family they were staying with in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz as a way of guaranteeing they would be fully reimbursed for the drugs after the mother’s arrest.

The woman’s partner, also a local drug dealer, allowed the captors to take the newborn and his brother.

A Spanish National Police team specializing in kidnappings and extortion travelled to Bolivia to help local authorities with the investigation.

Another monitored the mother’s entourage telephone activity from Spain to monitor communication between both sides.

According to the biological father of the 11-year-old boy, an Ecuadorian resident in Spain, dozens of phone calls from Bolivia were made to him by the captors, demanding that the money be paid back.

After a week of captivity, police located the children and arrested their four captors.

Earlier in March, the story of a Barcelona girl who was held captive by a friend of her parents in the depths of the Amazon made international headlines.

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