30-year-old American Edward Snowden, a contract employee at the National Security Agency, is the whistleblower behind significant revelations that surfaced in June 2013 about the US government's top secret, extensive domestic surveillance programmes. Snowden flew to Hong Kong from Hawaii in May 2013, and supplied confidential US government documents to media outlets including the Guardian.
Russia condemns France, Spain and Portugal for blocking Morales’ flight
Russia on Thursday condemned France, Spain and Portugal for blocking the flight from Moscow to La Paz of Bolivian President Evo Morales, over suspicions that US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden was on board.
“The action of the French, Spanish and Portuguese authorities can hardly be viewed as a friendly step toward Bolivia or Russia,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.
The plane carrying Morales was forced to land in Vienna after several European nations denied it overfly rights.
Morales urged European countries to “free themselves from the US empire” as he arrived home late Wednesday.
While in Moscow on Tuesday, Morales said Bolivia would consider Snowden’s request for political asylum, a comment that apparently sparked the European concern.
Security analysts in Moscow said Morales could not have taken Snowden even if he had wanted to, because the US fugitive was staying in Sheremetyevo international airport and is being denied access past Russian passport control.
Morales’s plane left from another international airport on the other end of Moscow called Vnukovo, which is primarily used by visiting dignitaries, as well as Russian government officials.
The Bolivian government accused European countries of placing the life of Morales in danger, a comment echoed by the Russian foreign ministry.
“The denial of overfly rights to the aircraft could have created a threat to the security of the onboard passengers, including the head of a sovereign state,” the Russian foreign ministry statement said.