(Photo : Wikipedia)
The official plane of Bolivian President Evo Morales, was rerouted to Austria on Tuesday after France and Portugal refused to let it cross their airspace because of suspicions that NSA leaker Edward Snowden was on board, EFE agency reports. Morales and his team first made a technical stop in the Canary Islands, then they continued on their way to La Paz.
The permission granted by Madrid to cross Spnaish airspace was confirmed by Bolivian president himself, who later defined the situation as an "aggression towards Latin America" and a "hijacking."
Morales attended a natural gas summit in Russia where he met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said that mid-flight, authorities in Lisbon, "inexplicably canceled our permit to fly over their air space as well as our landing permit. We had to work out a new flight path for the President so we could land in Spain to refuel, but then France also told us that they were cancelling our overflight permits as well."
"This is mostly an excuse to try to frighten and intimidate me. They are trying to silence us in our fight against the economic policies of domination," Morales said about the allegations that Snowden was travelling on his plane.
In a press conference the Bolivian president gave in Vienna, he said that the Spanish ambassador in Vienna, Alberto Carnero, went to the airport requesting access to the plane. "He asked to have a cup of coffee on the plane so he could come in and see it, but in reality he wanted to take control of it. I told him he could not come in because of international agreements," the Bolivian president added.
However, after it was reported that the Vienna airport police conducted a voluntary search of the aircraft and found that Snowden was not on board, Morales was free to go back to his country. Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger, said that the measure provided reassurance to all parties involved.
"After this voluntary search we can confirm that everyone on the aircraft is a Bolivian national," Spindelegger said. The official added that "it is important information that there is not a fugitive aboard the presidential plane, because the Snowden situtation has caused such global trouble."