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Bolivia willing to offer asylum to Snowden

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-07-07 11:50

LIMA -- Bolivian President Evo Morales announced Saturday his country will offer humanitarian asylum for US National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden if asked, according to reports reaching here from La Paz.

Morales, who was speaking to residents in Chipaya, a small town in western Bolivia, made the statement to "solemnly protest" his plane being refused to fly through four European countries' airspace amid suspicions that Snowden was on board earlier this week.

Morales said Bolivia is not going to be intimidated by the United States and European countries on the Snowden issue.

He said he only knew about Snowden through media, but the United States and some European countries made unfounded suspicions that his plane took Snowden away from Moscow.

In fear of Snowden's presence, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain blocked the presidential plane after Morales left Moscow where he attended a meeting of natural gas-producing nations on July 2, forcing it to land in Vienna, Austria.

This incident aroused anger among several Latin American leaders, who joined Morales two days ago in a meeting to condemn the European countries for infringing on the rights of Bolivia and all the Latin-American people, saying it is a violation of international law.

The Bolivian government blamed the United States for pressuring the European countries on the Snowden issue, threatening to close the U.S. embassy in Bolivia.

Snowden, who has been stranded in the transit area in Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport for about two weeks, has reportedly applied for asylum in 21 countries, with Venezuelan and Nicaraguan presidents having making the offer and Ecuador willing to consider the application.

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