Cuba Denounces US Pressure Over Snowden's Fate

A cardboard mask of Edward Snowden on the ground at a protest against the PRISM surveillance program, which Snowden leaked.
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A cardboard mask of Edward Snowden on the ground at a protest against the PRISM surveillance program, which Snowden leaked.

Cuba denounced U.S. efforts to pressure Latin American countries not to provide refuge to fugitive U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden and urged countries to stand up to Washington's bullying.

"Cuba calls on the international community to mobilize against these violations of international law and human rights," said a foreign ministry statement that was issued late Tuesday and carried by state media Wednesday.

The communique termed "inadmissible, unfounded and arbitrary" the decision by a number of European countries to deny flyover rights on Tuesday to a Bolivian plane carrying President Evo Morales and thought to possibly have Snowden aboard.

The plane had departed from Moscow, where Snowden is holed up, and eventually landed in Vienna, where it was searched by Austrian authorities looking for the man who last month revealed details of U.S. surveillance programs.

The statement said the incident, which Bolivia said amounted to a kidnapping of its president orchestrated by Washington, "offended all Latin America and the Caribbean."

The Bolivian plane was bringing Morales home from an energy conference in Moscow.

Cuba also termed "intolerable" the U.S. pressure on Ecuador not to grant Snowden political asylum.

Ever since Snowden made it to Russia, one of countries in the leftist ALBA bloc, which includes Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua, has been seen as the most likely destination for the former National Security Agency contractor.

Cuba had not officially commented on the Snowden saga until Tuesday's foreign ministry statement.

"The foreign ministry of the Republic of Cuba is following with serious preoccupation the events of recent weeks in relation to the significant denunciations of U.S. citizen Edward Snowden, which confirmed the existence of a global system of espionage carried out by the United States that trampled on the sovereignty of states and rights of individuals," the statement said.

The ALBA countries are among more than a dozen where Snowden has sought asylum, and all have expressed sympathy for his actions. The governments of Ecuador and Bolivia have said they would consider granting him refuge.

Snowden's options have narrowed since he arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong with no valid travel documents after the United States revoked his passport.

Five countries have rejected granting Snowden asylum, seven have said they would consider a request if made on their soil, and eight said they had either not made a decision or not received a request.

President Barack Obama has warned that an offer of asylum from a country would carry serious consequences.