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State Department and CIA officials pressured countries seen as potential destinations to turn Snowden away, reducing his options to a handful hostile toward the United States. Among them was Bolivia, whose president had signaled publicly that he would consider giving Snowden asylum. "Why not?" Morales said during a July visit to Moscow. "Bolivia is there to welcome personalities who denounce — I don't know if it's espionage or control." In interviews, U.S. officials acknowledged that they had no specific intelligence that Snowden would be on Morales's plane. But the Bolivian leader's remark was enough to set in motion a plan to enlist France, Spain, Italy and Portugal to block the Bolivian president's flight home. "The United States did not request that any country force down President Morales's plane," said Hayden, the National Security Council spokeswoman. "What we did do . . . was communicate via diplomatic and law enforcement channels with countries through which Mr. Snowden might transit." Another U.S. official described the effort as a "full-court press" involving CIA station chiefs in Europe. As it crossed Austria, the aircraft made a sudden U-turn and landed in Vienna, where authorities searched the cabin — with Morales's permission, officials said — but saw no sign of Snowden. The initial, official explanation that Morales was merely making a refueling stop quickly yielded to recriminations and embarrassment.
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