Bolivian President's Jet Rerouted On Suspicions Snowden Could Be On Board; Multi-Country Outrage Ensues

from the we-are-all-Bolivians dept

The Snowden saga continues to deliver surprising twists and turns that may well have important geopolitical knock-on effects. The latest involves the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, whose country is rumored to be willing to offer political asylum to Snowden. Here’s what happened, as reported by The Guardian:

Bolivia reacted with fury after a plane carrying the country’s president home from Russia was diverted to Vienna amid suspicions that it was carrying the surveillance whistleblower, Edward Snowden.

France and Portugal were accused of withdrawing permission for the plane, carrying the president, Evo Morales, from energy talks in Moscow, to pass through their airspace.

Both Bolivia and Austria deny that Snowden is on board, but no one has been allowed to check. Since being forced to land in Vienna, Morales has now been given permission by France and Portugal to overfly their territory, but not by Spain, which had also refused. The simultaneous revocation of permission to pass over these countries looks rather suspicious. The Bolivian defense minister, Ruben Saavedra, who was on the flight, has no doubts about who is behind it:

“This is a hostile act by the United States State Department which has used various European governments.”

The Bolivian Vice-President said they had been “kidnapped by imperialism” in Europe.

That framing has now been taken up by other South American governments, who have expressed their outrage at the insult to Bolivia and hence their region. As The Guardian reports in an update on the Bolivian story:

Argentinian president Cristina Kirchner has tweeted that she has been advised that Peruvian president Ollanta Humala will call a meeting of the Union of South American Nations [UNASUR] to discuss ongoing events.

And — ironically — Ecuador has re-entered the story after trying to distance itself from Snowden:

Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, has also railed against what he called an “affront to our America,” and called on his fellow South American presidents to “take action”.

Posting on Twitter, Correa wrote: “Decisive hours for UNASUR! Either we graduated from the colonies, or we claim our independence, sovereignty and dignity. We are all Bolivia!”

There is clearly a lot of political grandstanding and opportunism here. But there seems no doubt that this latest development will sour relationships between the US and South American nations, at least for a while. Spain and Portugal also come out of this badly, and are likely to lose influence among their former South American colonies. This latest incident shows once again the impact of Snowden’s actions, which continue to cause major ripples throughout the entire diplomatic world.

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Comments on “Bolivian President's Jet Rerouted On Suspicions Snowden Could Be On Board; Multi-Country Outrage Ensues”

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Anonymous Coward says:

this shows how scared the EU is of the USA. the UK had already forbidden any airline to take Snowden to the UK. to me, this shows that there is some ‘playing both ends towards the middle, with the UK being a member of the EU but doing what the USA says. i can only assume that information from the spying of EU ministers etc that the USA was doing was passed to the UK, so being aware of what was going to happen, be said, in various negotiations would have been quite advantageous

ethorad (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Saying that Snowden is forbidden from landing in the UK is quite different to saying he can’t even overfly UK airspace.

After all, if the aircraft is currently in Austria – a landlocked country – it can essentially be grounded by other countries.

To my mind, overflight permission for non-military flights should only be denied in carefully controlled circumstances.

qw (user link) says:


Imagine for one minute that Air Force One was forced to land in Uzbekistan because of a minor tiff involving unrelated foreign governments in a different continent. Can you imagine how quickly that would ratchet up, if President Obama, or any other US president, found himself was stuck in an airport in a country he never intended to visit?

Bolivia might not be a big or a perfect country, and it might not have a big or a perfect president. But when you start disrespecting sovereignty over intelligence community squabbles you are risking serious escalation.

And you’re putting the American people at far more risk than Snowden did, whatever his motives.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Imagine...

If that was tried, the US would simply launch fighter jets from at the closest military base or aircraft carrier to escort Air Force One wherever it needed to go making stopping the attempt to divert the flight. Bolivia doesn’t have military bases and aircraft carriers with fighter jets positioned all over the world, so they don’t have that option. All they can do is get mad and complain.

ReallyEvilCanine (profile) says:

The US can act with impunity

Obama can say that he won’t scramble any jets but the President’s record on honesty is… specious, at best. If he paused with an “ummm” or “ehhh” before stating it, he was outright lying; if he said that and clarified quickly and clearly, he was “stretching the truth”, meaning that he wouldn’t scramble any fighters, but that doesn’t exclude any actions from what the US has up in the sky already, aided by AWACS eyes and KC-135 tankers.

The US has an effective lock over the entire Atlantic airspace; no one crosses if the US decides not to allow it, and any aircraft can be forcefully diverted. So of course the EU is shit-scared; the EU gave up its military sovereignty through NATO back in the 1980s.

The safest way for Snowden to get across is inside a fitted-out 40′ container buried down at the bottom of a centre stack on a Maersk or CSCL ship. And that would require too many people to remain silent for it to succeed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Pardon me in advance. I have got ot hand it to President Obama. Here is a man who has got some of the biggest balls on the face of this planet that he’s willing to create an international incident with the president of an another country.

Good God. Not even under Republicans, nor even under President Bush, did the leader of our country ever have the balls to start an international incident with another country.

Has Obama totally flipped the script.?

Joe Dirt says:

Re: Re:

Good God. Not even under Republicans, nor even under President Bush, did the leader of our country ever have the balls to start an international incident with another country.

Now I’m no fan of the current administration, but really??

Have you ever heard of Iraq? I think that qualifies as an “international incident”. Hell we were going to go it alone there. Bush had his fun and now it’s Obama’s turn.

American politics offer 2 sides of the same coin. The only difference seems to be foreign policy which is either – A.)Force everyone to be like us(Republican), whether they want to or not, or B.)All talk and no action(Democrat), implying we have no spine. (a current example would be the “red line” that keeps moving in Syria, w/respect to chemical weapons).

Either way, we look weak and childish, like the block bully too dumb to get the nuances of mature communication, so we just beat anyone up that sounds like they are making fun of us.

sorrykb says:

Re: Re:

Not even under Republicans, nor even under President Bush, did the leader of our country ever have the balls to start an international incident with another country.

Well, there were those two invasions of other countries.

I do get where you’re coming from — This interference with a foreign leader’s travel (plus searching the plane, which now apparently has happened) is outrageous and runs counter to all sorts of rules of diplomacy (and likely runs afoul of international conventions).

Mr. Applegate says:

“This latest incident shows once again the impact of Snowden’s actions, which continue to cause major ripples throughout the entire diplomatic world.”

This latest incident shows once again the impact of the bumbling U.S. Government has had since Snowden’s actions, which continue to cause major ripples throughout the entire diplomatic world.


Seriously, Obama’s (and the entire U.S. Government’s) handling of the leaked documents have done nothing but make things worse. They are obviously lying to the American people and the rest of the world. Any credibility the U.S. Government had is quickly being flushed down the toilet.

Oh and bravo Mr. President for giving the rest of the world a license to spy, not only on the U.S. Government, but U.S. Corporations and citizens as well.

Very well played! /sarcasm

The Real Michael says:

Not to defend the actions of the US/EU here, just making an observation. Had it been a civilian aboard that plane instead of a president, do you really think there would be an uproar?

Last I checked, this world is not the property of the US government. In their obsessive-compulsive quest for vengeance against Snowden, this government is acting rogue, like a big bully. The guy’s gone, GET OVER IT ALREADY.

The Real Michael says:

Re: Re: US Arrogance

But that’s just the thing: the government is NOT protecting itself. It’s only hurting its image. The leaks about the NSA were more about undermining our rights than any ‘national security’ dilemma. Apparently the government has nothing better to do with their time than chase down a friggin’ whistle-blower. This all seems like an elaborate distraction.

Steve R. (profile) says:

Obama's "Restoration" of US Stature on the World Stage

The Obama sycophants sing the praises of Obama “restoring” US stature after blame Bush. Seems that they need to apply some critical thinking skills to re-assess their messiah.

Obama asserts to have an open and transparent administration. It would seem that Manning an Snowden are complying with that philosophy.

Also since this is the day before July 4, don’t forget that the founding fathers; from the perspective of the British, were considered to be lawbreakers, traitors, and revolutionaries.

Anonymous Coward says:

Diplomatic Ethics

You want to overfly with an illegally kidnapped person to render him to a black site in a country where he can be tortured?
By all means sir – would you like fuel with that?

You want to overfly when there is a possibility that you are carrying someone who told the truth and embarrassed the US government?
Sorry, sir, that’s more than my job’s worth.

Anonymous Coward says:

Digging out moles

I suspect this was a counter-intelligence measure by Russia and/or Bolivia. They probably shared this false info to suspected US agents, or through a medium they suspected the US of eavesdropping. The US, by pulling this stunt, probably committed the same offense they accuse Snowden of: exposing our spying methods.

Talks like ACLU but walks like Dick Cheny says:

[…] There is no sign that the president is less than fully committed to an imperial presidency and to surveillance and espionage practices that exceed the Constitution and international law. A Turkish professor put it this way in a conversation with the Financial Times the other day: ?He talks like the head of the American Civil Liberties Union, but he acts like Dick Cheney.? […]

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

I’d just like to point out they didn’t pull this plane out of a hat and decide to stop it. They had ‘intelligence’ placing him there.

They can’t verify the location of who appears to be the most wanted man in the US. Maybe it is time to seriously look beyond whatever Mr Snowden has and question how the fuck they failed to track a single person who is limited to moving inside an airport. PRISM and all of the other programs are just fluff and cover to keep budgets big and give good soundbite. They failed to keep track of 1 man they knew, how the fuck can they deal with the firehose of information they just had to have to keep us safe?

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