Snowden Rumors Ground Bolivian Presidential Flight

(UPDATE here via McClatchy.)

Bolivian President Evo Morales's plane was rerouted to Austria after France and Portugal barred it from crossing their airspace due to concerns it may be ferrying NSA leaker, Edward Snowden. Bolivia is one of 20 countries in which Snowden, reportedly still holed up in a Moscow airport, has sought asylum. Earlier, Morales met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a gas exporters' summit and told Russia Today that he would consider sheltering Snowden. Bolivia Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca denied the rumors saying, "We don't know who invented this lie."

Associated Press:

"This is a hostile act by the United States State Department which has used various European governments," said Bolivian Defense Minister Ruben Saavedra, who was on the flight.

Snowden's best chance of finding a nation willing to grant him political asylum may rest with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who was also in Russia on Tuesday.

"Maduro told Russian reporters that his country has not received an application for asylum from Snowden and dodged the question of whether he would take him with him when he left.

But Maduro also defended the former National Security Agency systems analyst.

"Who must protect Snowden? This is the question. This young man of 29 was brave enough to say that we need to protect the world from the American imperial elite, so who should protect him?" Maduro said in response to a question from journalists covering a ceremony to rename a Moscow street after Chavez. "All of mankind, people all over the world must protect him."

Maduro was scheduled to spend Wednesday in neighboring Belarus before returning to Venezuela."

The Guardian is live blogging the sitution, which seems to have become an enormous international incident, with many nations now in an uproar. Have you ever seen the President of a nation have a Twitter meltdown? Even Cuba and Ecuador:

Cuba's Foreign Ministry have released a statement condemning the incident, CNN reports.

CNN quote an extract from the statement:

This constitutes an unacceptable, unfounded and arbitrary act which offends all of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The report also quotes Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino who has spoken to reporters. He said:

We consider this a huge offense, and I will call for a UNASUR special summit with foreign secretaries to discuss this issue.

And wouldn't you know it, as I added the CNN link above, a breaking news story banner on CNN's website reads: "Suspected U.S. drone strike in northwestern Pakistan kills 17 people, intelligence officials say."


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