PARIS - French officials denied Wednesday that France refused to let the Bolivian president's plane cross over its airspace amid suspicions that NSA leaker Edward Snowden was aboard. Spain, too, said the plane was free to cross its territory.
The plane carrying President Evo Morales home from Moscow was rerouted to Austria Tuesday night, in a new twist to the international diplomatic drama over Snowden and the widespread U.S. surveillance that he revealed.
Bolivian officials said that France, Portugal, Spain and Italy blocked the plane from flying over their territories, and angrily demanded explanation.
Officials in both Austria and Bolivia said that Snowden was not on the plane, which was taking Morales home from a summit in Russia, where he had suggested that his government would be willing to consider granting asylum to the American. Snowden is believed to be in a Moscow airport transit area, seeking asylum from one of more than a dozen countries.
Two officials with the French Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that Morales' plane had authorization to fly over France. They would not comment on why Bolivian officials said otherwise. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to be publicly named according to ministry policy.
An official with Spain's foreign ministry said Wednesday that the country on Tuesday authorized Morales' plane to fly within its airspace and to make a refuelling stop. The official said Bolivia asked again this morning for permission and got it. She spoke on condition of anonymity because of department rules.
Officials in Portugal and Italy were not available to speak on the subject Wednesday morning.
Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said France and Portugal refused overflight rights and would have to explain why they cancelled authorization for the plane, claiming that the decision had put the president's life at risk.
"We don't know who invented this lie" that Snowden was travelling with Morales, Choquehuanca said in La Paz. "We want to denounce to the international community this injustice with the plane of President Evo Morales."
In a midnight press conference in La Paz, Bolivian Vice-President Alvaro Garcia said that Italy and Spain were also denying the plane permission to fly through their airspace.
He described Morales as being "kidnapped by imperialism" in Europe. Morales will remain at the airport until his plane has been cleared for takeoff.
Leaks by Snowden, a former NSA systems analyst, have revealed the NSA's sweeping data collection of U.S. phone records and some Internet traffic, though U.S. intelligence officials have said the programs target foreigners and terrorist suspects mostly overseas.
French President Francois Hollande has firmly criticized reported surveillance of U.S. allies by the National Security Agency. Several French politicians on the far left and right have said France should offer Snowden asylum, but the French government has said it hasn't received any asylum request from him and has not offered public support for Snowden.
Snowden has applied for asylum in Venezuela, Bolivia and 18 other countries, according to WikiLeaks, a secret spilling website that has been advising him. Many European countries on the list — including Austria, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Switzerland — said he would have to make his request on their soil.
Ciaran Giles in Madrid and Barry Hatton in Portugal contributed to this report.
The answer: No Interior minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner, said no request could be filed from outside the country, but said if Snowden arrived in the country, he could not be deported because no international arrest warrant exists
The answer: Maybe.. President Evo Morales says his country is willing to consider US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden's political asylum request.
The answer: NO Brazil will not grant asylum, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday, adding that it will leave the request unanswered.
The answer: Unknown China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said she had no information on Snowden's asylum bid.
The answer: Unknown No response yet from Havana, but Snowden's inability to get on a plane to Havana last week might give some indication about how the Cuban government feels regarding his asylum claim.
The answer: No President Rafael Correa told the Guardian in an interview that he was not considering Snowden's asylum request, because Snowden was not on Ecuadorian territory, and would not issue him travel documents.
The answer: No The reply came from the country's foreign ministry spokeswoman Tytti Pylkkö - saying that Snowden had to be in Finland to apply.
The reply: Unknown No public response yet from the French government
The reply: Unknown, but very unlikely There has been no official response, but like most countries, an application may be made only if the asylum-seeker is residing in Germany. Under the Residence Act: "A foreigner may be granted for the admission from abroad for urgent humanitarian reasons a residence. <a href="http://www.stern.de/politik/zuflucht-in-deutschland-unwahrscheinlich-2032905.html" target="_blank">This is reportedly being considered</a> by the federal government, but is unlikely to apply to Snowden.
The answer: No Iceland said the request was legally invalid from outside its territory.
The answer: No Foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin, tweeted: "Following careful examination we have concluded that we see no reason to accede to the Snowden request"
The answer: Stil considering.. Italy said it was "evaluating" the request which it dubbed "irregular" because it was not made in person.
The answer: No A Justice Ministry spokesman said an asylum application could only be accepted from a person who was on Irish soil.
The answer: No Netherlands Justice Minister Fred Teeven says Snowden is not eligible for asylum. "Since 2003 it is no longer possible to serve from abroad"
The reply: Unknown Nothing yet from the country's government,
The reply: No As with many European countries, it won't accept petitions filed from abroad.
The reply: No Unequivocal. Poland's Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski tweeted that his country would reject the asylum bid from Snowden, saying: "We received a letter that does not meet the formal application [requirements] for asylum. "But even if it was fulfilled, I will not give a positive recommendation."
The reply: Snowden withdrew his request Vladimir Putin's statement said Snowden could only be considered for asylum if he stopped "his work aimed at bringing harm to our American partners"
The reply: No Spain's Foreign Minister José García-Margallo said his country will not grant Snowden asylum as he does not fulfil the requirements - he is not on Spanish territory.
The reply: Unknown Switzerland does not normally allowed applications from outside its territory apart from in exceptional circumstances - and there have only been six in its history.
The reply: Nothing firm, but probably the best chance. President Nicolás Maduro is currently in Moscow and said he would consider the request, saying: "We think this young person has done something very important for humanity, has done a favour to humanity."