Farce ensues as rumor that Snowden was traveling with Bolivian leader proves false
Evo Morales and the Bolivian government are livid - and they have every right to be. Some knucklehead - perhaps in the American government - passed on a rumor to several European countries that NSA leaker Edward Snowden was traveling in the Bolivian President's plane.
What next ensued was farce as country after country refused permission for Morales' plane to use their airspace.
Officials in both Austria and Bolivia said that Snowden was not on the plane, which was taking Morales home from a summit in Russia, where he had suggested that his government would be willing to consider granting asylum to the American.
A furious Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said France and Portugal would have to explain why they canceled authorization for the plane, claiming that the decision had put the president's life at risk.
"We don't know who invented this lie" that Snowden was traveling with Morales, Choquehuanca said in La Paz. "We want to denounce to the international community this injustice with the plane of President Evo Morales."
In a midnight press conference, Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia said that not only France and Portugal, but also Italy and Spain were denying the plane permission to fly through their airspace.
He described Morales as being "kidnapped by imperialism" in Europe.
"The ambassador for Spain in Austria has just informed us that there is no authorization to fly over Spanish territory and that at 9 a.m. Wednesday they would be in contact with us again," said Defense Minister Ruben Saavedra, adding that the Spanish government had put as a condition for passage the "revision of the presidential plane."
Earlier, Choquehuanca said that Spain's government allowed Morales' plane to refuel in its territory before flying on to Vienna.
French government officials reached overnight said they could not confirm whether Morales' plane was denied permission to fly over France. Officials at Portugal's Foreign Ministry and National Civil Aviation Authority could not be reached to comment.
Austrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Schallenberg told The Associated Press that Snowden was not with Morales.
The US government has cowed most of the world and is preventing Snowden from getting asylum. One wonders what sort of threats we're issuing to countries like Spain and Portugal but neither of those economic basket cases can afford to get the world's #1 economic power mad at them.
Would that the administration were as effective at getting our economy back on track as they are at scaring other countries into denying Edward Snowden passage to freedom.