By Greg Miller
Published: July 3, 2013
The apparent diversion of the Bolivian president’s airplane in Europe has fed suspicion that the United States is quietly orchestrating an international manhunt for former NSA contractor Edward Snowden despite efforts by President Obama to play down the magnitude of that pursuit.
The circumstances surrounding the unscheduled landing of Bolivian President Evo Morales’s aircraft in Vienna remained murky Wednesday, with U.S. officials refusing to comment on Bolivian claims that the flight was blocked as part of an effort to ascertain whether Snowden — who has acknowledged leaking classified U.S. intelligence documents — was on board.
At the same time, U.S. officials made clear that the administration has held talks with governments that might be in a position to prevent Snowden from eluding U.S. capture.
“We have been in contact with a range of countries across the world who had any chance of having Mr. Snowden land or even transit through their countries, but I’m not going to outline when those were or what those countries have been,” State Department spokesman Jennifer Psaki said on Wednesday.
Bolivian authorities accused the United States of forcing Morales’s plane to land in Austria by putting pressure on American allies, including France and Portugal, and possibly Spain and Italy, to refuse to allow the Bolivian leader’s plane to enter their airspace.
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