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.