Edward Snowden is tired of sitting in a tight spot. The fugitive CIA contractor has been in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport for two weeks now. Earlier this week, he applied for political asylum to more than twenty countries. President Vladimir Putin was one of the first to respond positively to the request, but set a condition, “If he wants to stay here, there’s one condition… he must stop his activities aimed at inflicting damage to our American partners. He, judging by everything, doesn’t intend to stop such work, so, he has to choose a country and move there”. Snowden agreed that Russia wasn’t the best option for him, and continued seeking asylum.
Meanwhile, Moscow hosted the Gas Exporting Countries Forum. Amongst the participants were leaders from Iran, Venezuela, and Bolivia, which, definitely, one can’t accuse of worshipping Washington. When reporters asked him to comment on the Snowden affair, Bolivian President Juan Evo Morales Ayma said that he was willing to consider Mr Snowden’s request. That answer almost cost the Bolivian president his life. When he flew out of Moscow, (from Vnukovo airport, not Sheremetyevo, where Mr Snowden is holed up) all of a sudden, France and Portugal barred him from their airspace, and Spain withdrew a permit to land in the Canary Islands to refuel. These governments feared that the fugitive American spy could illegally be on board the presidential plane. By the way, this was after Snowden revealed to Europeans just how their NATO ally and partner was secretly spying on EU citizens and intercepting telephone calls of EU leaders.
Against such a background, the European countries barred from their airspace a man who could theoretically help Mr Snowden. Bruno Gollnisch, a member of the European Parliament, said in a VOR interview that this outraged him, saying, “Unfortunately, our government took the position of worshipping the USA. The only reaction to the information about American wiretapping was a request to postpone free trade talks for two weeks. I’m staggered how dependent on the USA we are. I’m even more staggered that France barred Evo Morales’s aircraft from our airspace. I believe it is a real shame for my country”. Vienna permitted President Morales to make an emergency landing. The Bolivian president enjoyed Austria’s hospitality for more than 12 hours, until an Austrian representative inspected the presidential plane and assured Madrid that there were no illegal passengers. Later, the European countries involved had to explain the incident with the plane.
Sergei Mikheyev said, “This incident is yet another failure for US intelligence. This is a serious failure for the American intelligence services, of the entire management system, and of all American foreign policy in general. The USA is enraged. They need Edward Snowden for a show trial in order to teach others not to do something like this ever again. However, they failed to catch him; so, they started making mistakes. This incident is yet another mistake. Snowden wasn’t on board the plane. Once again, they made a blunder in front of the whole world”.
In solidarity with Evo Morales, Latin American countries reacted angrily to the incident, and demanded that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issue a statement on the incident. Meanwhile, Edward Snowden continues to send requests for asylum to different countries. Lawyer Janis Yuksha said, “When everything’s sorted out, nothing will prevent him from leaving Sheremetyevo. He’s got a passport, but the problem is that it’s invalid. However, this document legitimises him, i.e. identifies him. We can identify a person collating photos and other data. I want to say that many countries give asylum to refugees without any documents at all. Snowden has lots of them. Nevertheless, his status is unusual, as the USA annulled his passport, but it can’t annul his citizenship. Therefore, he’s a citizen of that country, but he doesn’t want to go back there. Being in the transit area, he isn’t actually on any country’s territory”. As of today, Venezuela and Nicaragua indicated that they’d give Edward Snowden asylum.
6 July 2013
Voice of Russia World Service