Bolivian President Evo Morales’ Plane Searched For Signs of Snowden, But Morales Flies On To Bolivia

  @natrudy on July 03 2013 7:58 AM
  • Bolivia Morales July 2013 2
    Bolivian President Evo Morales waves from his plane before leaving the Vienna International Airport in Schwechat July 3, 2013. Morales said on Wednesday he was awaiting Spanish permission to fly home through its airspace after he refused Madrid's request to inspect his plane following its diversion to Vienna. France and Portugal abruptly cancelled air permits for Morales' plane en route from Moscow on Tuesday, apparently due to fears fugitive ex-U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden could be on board. Bolivian and Austrian officials denied this. Reuters
  • Snowden Russia 2July2013
    An employee distributes newspapers, with a photograph (R) of former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden seen on a page, at an underground walkway in central Moscow July 2, 2013. Snowden has applied for political asylum in Norway, the Norwegian foreign ministry said on Tuesday. The headline reads: "Snowden will be nominated for Nobel." Reuters
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Bolivian President Evo Morales eventually received approval from European governments to fly home after an appearance in Moscow amid suspicions that his plane carried former NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden on board.

Morales’ plane was left stranded in Vienna for several hours after Portugal and France suspended the plane’s permit to fly through their airspace, Reuters reported.

After a search by Austrian authorities confirmed that Snowden was not on board, the plane resumed its flight to Bolivia through Spain’s airspace.

Bolivian officials said that the search was a violation of international law and an act of aggression that put Morales’ life at risk. Austrian deputy chancellor Michael Spindelegger said Morales had consented to the search of the plane.

Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca called the suspicions of Snowden’s presence “unfounded” and a “lie,” adding that the source of the rumors remained unclear.

Bolivia will also file a complaint to the United Nations about the behavior of the European countries in blocking Morales’ flight path, the AFP reported.

Earlier this week in Moscow, Morales signaled that he’d be willing to consider an asylum application from Snowden. He said Bolivia was keen to “shield the denounced,” and he described the U.S. surveillance apparatus as the espionage arm of an “empire.”

The White House, the CIA, and the State Department all declined to comment on the situation to the Washington Post.

Bolivia’s ambassador to the UN, Sacha Llorenti Soliz, told reporters in New York that he had no doubt the orders to divert Morales’ plane came from the United States.

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