Spain opens airspace to Bolivia leader's plane in US spy row

The Spanish government on Wednesday authorised Bolivian President Evo Morales's plane to fly over and land in Spain after several countries barred it suspecting fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden was on board.

Morales asked for permission to land in Las Palmas on the Canary Islands for servicing after his plane spent the night in Vienna on its way from Moscow, where Snowden has been holed up in a transit zone since June 23.

Snowden has requested asylum from Bolivia and 20 other nations as he seeks to avoid US espionage charges for revealing a vast surveillance program to collect phone and Internet data.

The Spanish government said it had granted Bolivia the right to overfly Spain on Tuesday before the plane was diverted to Vienna airport, and it renewed the authorisation on Wednesday.

"Bolivia has again requested overflight and a stopover and we granted it at 9:30 am this morning," or 0730 GMT, a spokesman for the Spanish foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

It gave no details of the timing of the stopover.

Before the plane diversion on Tuesday, Spain said it would not respond to Snowden's asylum claim unless it were made on Spanish soil.

The diversion of the jet sparked a diplomatic row, with Bolivia accusing France and Portugal of denying their airspace based on groundless rumours that Snowden was on board.

The Austrian foreign ministry said that Snowden was not on the plane when officials checked the passports of those on board. It said there was no legal basis for a full search of the aircraft.