Edward Snowden saga: Bolivia accuses Europe of 'kidnapping' Bolivian president in forcing Evo Morales' plane to land in Vienna

French officials deny refusing to let Bolivian president's plane cross its airspace as fugitive is not found on board

Moscow

Bolivia has accused Austria of “kidnapping” their president after refusing to allow a plane carrying Evo Morales into their airspace amid suggestions NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was on board.

“We're talking about the president on an official trip after an official summit being kidnapped,” Bolivia's ambassador to the United Nations in New York, Sacha Llorenti Soliz, told reporters in Geneva on Wednesday.

“We have no doubt that it was an order from the White House,” ambassador Llorenti said. “By no means should a diplomatic plane with the president be diverted from its route and forced to land in another country.”

Bolivia has also accused European states of an “act of aggression” and “an offence against the whole Latin region” over the affair and has asked for a crisis meeting of South American leaders after officials expressed outrage at Mr Morales' treatment.

Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca blamed the forced stopover in Vienna on “unfounded suspicions that Mr Snowden was on the plane”.

“We don't know who invented this lie,” Mr Choquehuanca said in La Paz. “We want to express our displeasure because this has put the president's life at risk.”

However, Deputy Chancellor Michael Spindelegger said that President Evo Morales had agreed to the inspection. He confirmed Edward Snowden was not on board when Mr Morales' plane was diverted on a flight from Russia and forced to land in Austria over suspicions that Snowden could have been inside.

Speaking to reporters at the airport, Mr Spindelegger said: “Our colleagues from the airport had a look and can give assurances that no one is on board who is not a Bolivian citizen.”

The plane carrying the Bolivian president finally took off from Vienna's airport to continue it's journey shortly before noon on Wednesday.

Bolivia claimed that France, Portugal, Spain and Italy blocked the plane from flying over their territories, forcing the unscheduled stopover in Vienna. There was no evidence that Mr Snowden, wanted by Washington for espionage after divulging classified details of US phone and Internet surveillance, had left the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport.

French officials denied on Wednesday that France refused to let the Bolivian president's plane cross over its airspace amid suspicions that Mr Snowden was aboard. Spain, too, said the plane was free to cross its territory.

According to the anti-secrecy organisation WikiLeaks, Mr Snowden applied for asylum in 21 countries, with letters passed to Russian officials who met him at his secret location in the Moscow airport, where he has stayed since fleeing Hong Kong, where the US attempted to launch an extradition bid. The US has charged the former intelligence contractor with violating espionage laws for leaking classified information about US surveillance operations.

As Mr Snowden, 30, prepared to spend his 10th night at the airport, he was dealing with outright rejections from Brazil and India. Finland, Ireland, Austria, Norway and Spain said requests for asylum have to be made in person on their territories to be considered. The Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski wrote on Twitter that he would “not give a positive recommendation” to the request.

Mr Snowden’s most likely destination had initially appeared to be Ecuador, but President Rafael Correa has sharply backtracked in recent days, describing the issue of the temporary travel pass that allowed Mr Snowden to depart Hong Kong for Moscow by Ecuador’s London Consul as a “mistake”. He has not completely ruled out asylum for Mr Snowden, but has said the American would need to reach Ecuadorian territory before any request could be considered, which currently does not seem possible.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has said that he would consider an asylum request from Mr Snowden, but suggestions that the Latin American leader, who is in Moscow for an international gas forum, might spirit Mr Snowden away on his presidential jet appeared unfounded. He did speak out in favour of the whistleblower. “He deserves the world’s protection,” Mr Maduro said. “What has he done? Did he launch a missile and kill someone? Did he rig a bomb and kill someone? No. He is preventing war.”

There have been no confirmed sightings of Mr Snowden since he landed in Moscow on 30 June, leading many to believe he is being guarded by Russian security agents, although President Vladimir Putin has denied this. It had seemed that Russia might be preparing to offer shelter after Mr Snowden handed an asylum application to the duty consul at Sheremetyevo on Sunday. President Vladimir Putin said Russia could offer Mr Snowden asylum on the condition that the whistleblower stopped leaking information “harmful” to the US. Mr Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that this condition had been too much for the stranded American, who had then withdrawn his application.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all