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  • Dec 28, 2014
  • Updated: 1:13am
Edward Snowden

Whistle-blower Snowden has own 'no fly zone'

Bolivian president's plane is diverted after four European countries close airspace, fearing fugitive Edward Snowden was on board

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 July, 2013, 11:33am

The world just got a whole lot smaller for Edward Snowden.

Western European countries apparently shut their airspace to Bolivian president Evo Morales' plane because of speculation the fugitive US national security whistle-blower was on board. Their alleged actions forced Morales' plane to divert to Austria, where it was searched, and triggered a diplomatic row.

They also suggest how difficult it will be for Snowden to leave Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, where he has been stuck in transit since leaving Hong Kong 10 days ago.

France, Italy, Spain and Portugal were said to have closed their airspace to the plane as the South American leader was flying home after talks in Moscow. French, Spanish and Portuguese officials denied having done so.

Before boarding his plane in Moscow, Morales had said he would consider an application for asylum from Snowden, and Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro said the 30-year-old deserved "the world's protection".

Morales flew out of the Austrian capital yesterday after a stopover of more than 12 hours.

The Bolivian ambassador to the UN, Sacha Llorenti, said a complaint would be lodged with UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

"The decisions of these countries have violated international law," he said.

Bolivia's regional allies Venezuela, Ecuador, Cuba and Nicaragua harshly criticised the European countries involved.

"It's clear that the US is chasing him down but it's harder to tell how much political European considerations are behind it," said Professor Martin Scheinin, an expert in international law and human rights at the European University Institute in Italy.

Scheinin said Snowden's options were limited despite the wide net he had cast by applying for political asylum with more than 20 countries, because the former CIA analyst's legal position was not clear-cut.

"It's a difficult case and his likelihood of getting asylum in Nordic or western European countries is quite slim," he said.

"To grant Snowden protection without a legal obligation to do so would be a discretionary political act and probably no European country would want to be seen carrying out such an act."

Scheinin said asylum used to be granted for protection on political or personal grounds "but more and more, countries are conflating it with the legal obligation to recognise refugee status". Snowden would not meet the definition of a refugee because he is not a member of a persecuted group. "Snowden is subject to criminal prosecution and imprisonment, not persecution."

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse



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This article is now closed to comments

hard times !
you better shut up your nasty mouth forever and ever since you are never welcomed here.As an open Comment column, the SCMP welcomes different types of comments posted here provided that you can contribute yours ! But regrettably you just can never write a piece of sensible or constructive posting ! Shame on you and your miserable 'English' ! Why don't you go home and brush up your English before coming back to bark at other writers ?! ha ! ha !
How come, just on this page; "tiny Hong Kong" , "blitz at dawn", and "man in Moscow" all sound the same, have the same style, cannot properly space their typing (mainland typewriter?) ?
hard times !
agree with this political idiot so-called 'KwunTongBypass' which is nothing but a common road in Kwun Tong, Kowloon only-----------no significance at all among all the main roads in Hong Kong ! Don't you know ?
"The decisions of these countries have violated international law", so us is above the law, sounded just like MFSOB richard cheney, attacked and destroyed a country based on a lie and not be accountable for it!!!!
SCMP is really milking this story.
So sorry your attention span is already exhausted, perhaps tweets are your limit.
this snowden story is so boring and has run it's course. countries spy on each other. They have been for YEARS !!! nothing new here except for someone seeking fame trying to be a hero. next story please......
then why even read it and make a comment if it was so boring to you....you must be one of those americans working for Obama to spy on hongkong...ugly americans like to bully everyone
hard times !
as an open Comment column for her readers to contribute their postings here, no one has the right to ask SCMP to kick out any writers ( as suggested by that evil-minded 'bluefirestorm'---a weird nickname !). Right ? bah bah bah ?
hard times !
why don't you go home and study your so-called English well first ? Yelling at other contributors day and night is meaningless at all !



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