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
  • Get to the point
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 Media Assistant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an ambitious and adaptable...

Guru Careers: Solutions Consultant

£30 - 40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Solutions Consultan...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Guru Careers: Software Engineer / Software Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before