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
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
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: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine