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  • Oct 2, 2014
  • Updated: 9:27pm
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 are the faked 'Yes, we Scan !!' go to meet Marx the sooner the better for being so shameless and shameful in disguising as another writer ! Shame on your evil act ! Shame on you !!!
You should be banned from here. You must be one of those spies from the US trying to disrupt any news about snowden
hard times !
hahahaha not hehehehe instead ? You idiotic stupid fool ! You are fooled ! Arent't you ? Pl.look at yourself in the mirror !
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 ?
It is frightening to see with so much revelation by Snowden about US espionage on other countries including its allies in EU, the world is still working just like a slave to the super power by even shutting the doors of their corridors to let Snowden pass by. Is it another type of terrorism?
Don't be so naive.
Espionage and spy activities have been going on for centuries; even between allies. The difference is it can be scandalous and embarassing when one country is caught doing so.
Just to give an example, French agents went undercover in New Zealand in 1985 to blow up the Greenpeace ship "Rainbow Warrior".
Frightening to see how powerful a control the US hegemon have over the world. Mind control shouldn't be far away with their technology. I'm really glad to be living in HKG.
John Adams
Wow ! Big bully boy USA is really throwing his weight around over this.
There must be a lot more skeletons in the USA's cupboards that they are scared stiff of Snowden leaking.
Instead of ' shock and awe' as in the Iraqi war it's now 'fear and tremble' ... and obey
hard times !
if the plane carrying the president of Bolivia was not allowed to fly past the air-space of France and Portugal for fear that it might carry Snowden on board, then it can be expected that any planes carrying Snowden will not be allowed to fly past lots of European countries.How can our Leaker-hero,Snowden fly to his chosen country: Venezuela or Bolivia ? I wonder.Maybe it is time for him to seriously considering seeking a refuge in an embassy (either Bolivia or Venezuela) in Moscow provided he is allowed to enter the Russian territory while being a stateless person without a visa.If the country which is willing to accept him can send their car inside the transit zone and carry him away with the special permission from Putin,then Snowden is saved.amen.




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