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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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

Guru Careers: Graduate Software Developer / Junior Developer

£20 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Software Develop...

Recruitment Genius: Delegate Telesales Executive - OTE £21,000 uncapped

£16000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: High quality, dedicated Delegat...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - School Playground Designer

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Traffic Planner

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As the successful candidate you...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor