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. 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 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 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 the whistle-blower 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 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 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 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.

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 Snowden, but suggestions that the Latin American leader, who is in Moscow for an international gas forum, might spirit him away on his presidential jet appeared unfounded. However, he did speak out in favour of Snowden. “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 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 Snowden handed an asylum application to the duty consul at Sheremetyevo on Sunday. President Vladimir Putin said Russia could offer 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.

Additional reporting by agencies

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high