Bolivia says European nations ‘kidnapped’ Evo Morales in hunt for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden

Grounding President’s plane was an ‘act of aggression’ that will result in complaint to UN

Brussels

Bolivia accused European nations of an “act of aggression” for refusing to allow the plane of its President Evo Morales’ to travel in their airspace because of rumours that the US fugitive, Edward Snowden, was on board.

The diplomatic fallout from the US spying scandal drew in several more countries as the hunt continued for Mr Snowden, who is wanted by the US on charges of leaking secrets he gathered while working as a contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA). 

President Morales had attended a summit in Moscow, where Mr Snowden is believed to be holed up at Sheremetyevo airport, and was flying back to Bolivia on Tuesday when his plane was diverted to Vienna. Bolivian diplomats claim that France, Portugal and Italy refused the plane permission to cross their airspace after US officials raised fears that the Bolivian delegation was harbouring Mr Snowden.

Officials from France and Portugal have since denied that they shut their air space to the plane, but Bolivia’s ambassador to the United Nations said they would be filing a complaint.

“We’re talking about the president on an official trip after an official summit being kidnapped,” Sacha Llorenti Soliz told reporters in Geneva.

While attending an energy summit in Moscow, Mr Morales had said that Bolivia may consider granting asylum to Mr Snowden, a former NSA contractor who is wanted for questioning in the US after revealing details of its secret surveillance programme.

A Vienna airport official told the Associated Press news agency that pilots on Mr Morales’ plane asked to land in Austria soon after take-off because of fuel shortages, although it was not clear if this was related to the aircraft being unable to travel through other airspace.

After spending the night on the tarmac, the plane was searched this morning before resuming its journey to Bolivia – with no sign of Mr Snowden on board.

Mr Soliz said Latin American presidents were planning an emergency meeting to discuss the incident, while the President of Argentina, Cristina Kirchner, said on Twitter that the re-routing of the plane was “crazy” as aircraft carrying heads of state had “total impunity”.

The presence of Mr Snowden in Moscow has already sparked diplomatic tensions between the United States and Russia. The European Union, meanwhile, is looking into claims in the German news magazine Der Spiegel that the NSA spied on EU offices in the US and Europe. The claims have threatened to scupper the start of negotiations between the US and EU on the world’s largest free trade agreement, with a French government spokesperson saying it “seemed wise” for the scheduled start of talks on Monday to be delayed by two weeks.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Recruitment Genius: Magento Front End Web Developer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Front End Web Developer is re...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore