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.
Those governments have so far not acknowledged blocking Morales’s path at the behest of the United States. But their opaque statements, and a search of the aircraft by Austrian authorities, suggest that at least some U.S. allies in Europe have been persuaded to assist in the pursuit of Snowden even while expressing anger over revelations that their citizens and officials have been swept up in the surveillance programs that Snowden exposed.
Snowden, who has been charged with stealing and disclosing classified materials, is believed to still be in Moscow.
Morales was allowed to resume his return to La Paz on Wednesday, but his forced overnight stay in Vienna ended amid escalating protests from Bolivian officials.
They were joined by leaders of a number of leftist countries in Latin America who characterized the redirection of Morales’s presidential plane as an affront that put his life in jeopardy and underscored vestiges of European colonialism and racism toward Latin America. Morales is an Aymara Indian, the first to be elected president in Bolivia’s modern history.
“What has happened is EXTREMELY grave,” Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, wrote on Twitter. “Latin America demands reactions and explanations.”
The 12-member Union of South American Nations called an urgent meeting of the region’s presidents Thursday in Cochabama, Bolivia, to determine what course of action could be taken against both Washington and the European countries accused of having blocked Morales’s flight path.
At the United Nations, Bolivia’s ambassador, Sacha Sergio Llorentty Soliz, has “raised a ruckus” in a series of phone conversations with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s top aides, according to a senior U.N.-based official.