After departing a gas exporters’ summit in Russia on Tuesday, the plane carrying Bolivia’s President Evo Morales was diverted to Vienna, Austria when it was suddenly denied air space by Portugal and France due to suspicions that NSA leaker Edward Snowden may have been on board. In the end, no sign of Snowden was found during a search of the plane, and Bolivia is now calling the incident a ‘kidnapping.’
Bolivia accused Austria of “kidnapping” its president, Evo Morales, on Wednesday after authorities searched his plane during a stop-over in Vienna on suspicion he was taking fugitive U.S. intelligence analyst Edward Snowden to Latin America.
A senior Bolivian diplomat said the Austrians had acted at the bidding of the United States, which has been trying to get its hands on Snowden since he revealed details of its secret surveillance programs last month.
“We’re talking about the president on an official trip after an official summit being kidnapped,” Bolivia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Sacha Llorenti Soliz, told reporters in Geneva.
Bolivia has, not surprisingly, capitalized on the incident to take shots at the West.
From NBC News:
“We want to tell Bolivians, we want to tell the world, that President Evo Morales, our president, the president of all Bolivians, was kidnapped in Europe today,” Vice President Alvaro García Linera said late Tuesday in front of the official presidential residence in the capital, La Paz. “We want to say to the nations of the world that President Evo Morales has been abducted by imperialism and is being held in Europe.”
In a statement from aboard his presidential plane Wednesday, Morales underlined the indignation and fury felt at the highest levels of the Bolivian government, and made a thinly-veiled attack on Western powers.
“I feel this was an excuse to frighten, intimidate and punish me. More than anything, an excuse to try and silence us on the struggle against the politics of plunder, invasion and domination,” president Morales said.
The incident has sparked international outcry, as Bolivia has now promised to file a formal complaint with the UN Human Rights Commission.
The foreign ministry of Cuba also issued a statement Tuesday calling on the international community “to mobilize against these violations of international law and human rights.”
Bolivia is one of twenty countries to which Snowden has applied for asylum. Brazil, Finland, Germany, India and Poland have all rejected the requests, while Austria, Ecuador, Norway and Spain have indicated that asylum could only be considered if made from within their countries or at one of their embassies, according to CBS News.
The former NSA contractor has since withdrawn his asylum request with Russia after President Vladimir Putin said Snowden could stay only if he ceased his work “aimed at harming our American partners.”DONATE
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