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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

President Obama publicly discounted Snowdon as a 29-year-old hacker, but Obama's real sentiments are revealed by these frantic efforts to arrest Snowdon. This is another instance of how important it is not to take Obama's words at face value. I was astonished to learn that Gallup (July 2, 2013) says 76% of Americans still think Obama is "likable." But, I cannot "like" a leader so given to lies and dissimulation. This partly explains why in March 2013 Henry Kissinger implied that Obama is not trusted by foreign governments who were also said not to know where he is going internationally. For example, Obama himself admitted that his June 2013 Sunnylands meeting with President Xi Jinping was really tough sledding. And no better was Obama's Northern Ireland meeting with President Vladimir Putin. Significantly, Obama is disdained by these foreign leaders and others (Merkel, Hollande), partly because they understand that 90% of what passes for foreign policy under Obama is really aimed at deceiving the American people rather than influencing foreign governments. For example, empty USA talk about "the pivot to Asia" was probably no more than President Obama's attempt to get some public-relations cover for USA withdrawal from the Middle East. Is that strategy of retreat from the Middle East good policy? Maybe. But, my point is that Obama consistently fails to be open and honest with the American people. President Obama is easily the most devious USA president in my lifetime.
the sun also rises
The Snowden Gate Incident is the most shocking one in our cyber era and the main character Edward Snowden will definitely be remembered in the decades to come just like Martin Luther King jr. or Lincoln who set free the black slaves or India's saint Gandhi whose 'civil-disobedience' movement caused the independence of India.The saga itself is intriguing enough to attract the interests and attention of the general public (including the netizens of course) whose privacy have to be well-protected and their human rights in freedom of expression well-respected.
John Adams
I agree !
The USA cannot sweep this under the carpet, just like they could not sweep Martin Luther King under the carpet.
For generations the USA denied the blacks the vote and discriminated against the blacks, and pretended the issue did not exist ( although the USA was supposed to be the world's leading 'democracy' / 'upholder of the truth' / 'light of the nations' etc).
For generations the USA lived in denial about the black issue. But finally they were forced to confront it and deal with it - and look what huge racial problems they have now because they dealt with the problem later rather than sooner.
It's the same with Snowden Gate - the longer the USA lives in denial and tries to cover up what they have been doing in the world : spying on their friends and allies 'in the name of freedom' the worse the consequences when they are finally forced to admit it's true and deal with it.
Nixon learned this lesson the hard way with Watergate. Sad that Obama apparently does not read recent USA history.
I feel very sad for the USA - always with its head in the sand
Also it is setting a terrible example for China.
Seems the USA tells China : "Do what we say / not what we do"
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
It's sad that news have to be entertaining to be afforded a status of a worthy news item. This is still news and still topical and interesting on how it may develop on a legal and political basis.
the sun also rises
Good news to tell everybody here ! The ex-Russian beauty spy,Anna Chapman wrote on the social website, asking Snowden:' Will you marry me,Snowden ?' Once Snowden agrees to marry her (who is 31 ),then he has the rights to live in Russia and thus ending his miserable life in the transit zone and may become an invaluable treasure of Russia. Snowden well knows the techniques to hack into other nations' computer systems and is also excellent in data analysis A nightmare of Obama ?
the sun also rises
Hong Kong observes freedom of expression, so does our respectable SCMP which allows any writers to contribute their views here in this column.Yet now some nasty guys who have no objective views to present here, dare suggest the editor of this column to cancel a certain writer's postings.How absurd it is ! Shame on these nasty guys and their so-called views or suggestions ! Shame on them indeed !
"Yes, we Scan !!", or is it "les miserables", or is it "man from hawaii" or is it "on Russian soil !" or "blitz at dawn !" or whatever the current forum name you have chosen,
Please read the terms and conditions of SCMP.com, especially section 4.4.
Ohh, thank you for pointing this out.I am sorry, I was such a jerk!! I will stop my stupid rants now.
the sun also rises
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
the sun also rises
hahahaha not hehehehe instead ? You idiotic stupid fool ! You are fooled ! Arent't you ? Pl.look at yourself in the mirror !
the sun also rises
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
the sun also rises
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.
Would you please stop your hourly silly ramblings - UNDER ALL KINDS OF DIFFERENT NAMES! You are not adding anything of any value!
What are you aiming at? Proving to the readers of the on-line SCMP that there are lots of NERDS reading the paper?
SCMP please note and put this guy right!
Anyone has the freedom to talk, including yourself and other writers, regardless where they are from.
the sun also rises
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?) ?
the sun also rises
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 !
Agree with KwunTongBypass, SCMP better put this person right.
The style goes like ....
"blah blah blah blah leaker-hero blah blah blah !"
"blah blah blah blah blah. Right?"
A lot of exclamation points both in the post and the ever changing names; and always have a space before the exclamation point. Names like "out of grid !", "on Russian soil !", "The Tempora !", "Big Bro's watching !", "my beloved country !", "the whistle-blower !"
I think this person(s) is(are) obsessed with Snowden and would gladly be his pet phoenix to be stroke ;-)
the sun also rises
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 ?
Kwun Tong Bypass is a dual 3-lane urban trunk road running in east-west direction, with capacity about 6000 pcus/hour in both directions. It connects with Tate’s Cairn Tunnel to its west and Tseung Kwan O Tunnel/ Eastern Harbour Crossing to its east
Of course, compared to Beijing just a small road!
ahhhh, actually you are right. Sorry all. I am now stopping my rants!
Your 'knowledge' about the Kwun Tong Bypass just proves to me that you are NOT a Hong Konger!
the sun also rises
Sorry,even this Old Hong Kong who was born here decades ago has never travelled on that road before.It can't be as well-known as King's Road, Queen's Road,Nathan Road or even Chatham Road or Canton Road or even San Fung Road in Sheung Shui or Stanley Main Street in Stanley, Hong Kong Island I think.Sorry, I nearly miss Kwun Tong Road, Wai Yip Street or Ngau Tau Kok Road which are all well-known to all Old Hong Kongs !
Yeah indeed, US has set up this 'no-fly-zone' without 'scrambling jets' in the sky. To whose jet do you think next time the US wants to apply another round of 'guided landing'? Mr. Putin's one?
"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.
the sun also rises
You are being milked by your Uncle Sam's mistress,maybe.
So sorry your attention span is already exhausted, perhaps tweets are your limit.


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