Bolivia is angry, a plane carrying Bolivia’s president home from Russia was diverted to Vienna because of suspicions that Edward Snowden was on board heading to Bolivia for asylum. Earlier in the day President Morales said in an interview with Russia Today television that
Bolivia would be willing to consider granting asylum to Snowden.
Bolivia’s foreign minister was livid when he spoke to the press:
“We don’t know who invented this lie,” he said, “but we want to denounce to the international community this injustice with the plane of President Evo Morales.”
He said the decision by France and Portugal “put at risk the life of the president.”
There were no reports of Snowden being spotted at the Vienna airport.
Morales was reported meeting there Tuesday night with the plane’s crew to reprogram his return to Bolivia.
As it turns out Snowden is still in the transit zone at the Moscow airport and all day most of the country he applied for asylum to either said no or said Snowden would have to show up on their soil before he could apply for asylum.
President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela was coy on the matter, but voiced support for the NSA leaker.
“Who must protect Snowden? This is the question. This young man of 29 was brave enough to say that we need to protect the world from the American imperial elite, so who should protect him?” Maduro said.
Maduro was scheduled to spend Wednesday in neighboring Belarus before returning to Venezuela.
Experts on refugee and asylum issues said Snowden’s ordeal is turning into a law school case study that challenges the definition of a refugee, tests the strength of extradition treaties, looks at when it’s OK to revoke passports, and examines the ethics of U.S. interference in a process that’s designed to allow persecuted people a chance to plead their case.
Snowden reportedly has applied for asylum in 21 countries, but so far there are no takers.
Poland, Brazil, India and Finland each rejected the petitions outright. Russia agreed to consider Snowden for asylum if only he’d stop publishing classified U.S. files; Snowden then withdrew his petition.
Austria, Ecuador, Norway and Spain have said they’d consider Snowden’s application if the requests were made within their territories – a clever way to avoid saying no. And another dozen – including China, Cuba, France and Germany – have yet to issue responses.
Bolivian President Evo Morales so far has offered the most solid promise yet by agreeing to “shield the denounced,” as he was quoted by news agencies while on a trip to Russia. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, also in Russia, similarly praised Snowden and said he deserves a “humanitarian medal” for exposing the NSA’s extensive spy network.