(Reuters) - Bolivian President Evo Morales' plane flew over Portugal with due authorization, Portuguese Foreign Minister Paulo Portas said on TUSay (July 9), adding that his government did not ask whether former US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden was on board.
Bolivia has accused Spain, France, Portugal and Italy of closing their skies to Evo Morales' plane last week after being told it was carrying Snowden from Moscow to Bolivia.
"Portugal authorized the Falcon flight of (Bolivian) President Morales in the national territory. Not only did we authorize it but in fact President Morales' plane flew over Portuguese airspace. I can give you the map. It came in through the Alentejo region at 12:31 (local time), went past Portalegre and Setubal district and went up to the Porto Santo zone airspace, which it exited at 13:56 (local time)," said Portas, showing lawmakers a printout of the flight route.
Washington wants Snowden arrested on espionage charges for divulging details of extensive secret surveillance programs. He remains in limbo in the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and has no valid travel documents.
The Bolivian government believes the US knew that Snowden was not on the plane and simply wanted to intimidate Morales because of his oUSoken criticism of US policies. The president has since said he would offer Snowden asylum.
Portas said Portugal did not enquire about Snowden's possible presence on the plane.
"The Portuguese government absolutely respects the position of any legitimate government from any sovereign state regarding Mr. Snowden, his attitude, his movement and an eventual asylum. That's why our option, which was ours and not anyone else's, was to not ask for information from Bolivia about who was or was not on the plane," he said.
"In the same way we do not question who comes inside the state airplane of a sovereign country, we also - as an equally sovereign country - do not want to import, so to speak, a problem which is not Portugal's problem or should become so," emphasized the Foreign Minister.
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