Bolivian President Evo Morales’ plane has been diverted to Austria due to false rumors that US surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden was on board, Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca has announced.
France and Portugal refused to allow Morales’ plane, which was flying from Moscow back to Bolivia, to cross their airspace on Tuesday, Choquehuanca said.
“The president was forced to land in Vienna,” he stated, adding that Morales’ life had been put in danger by the forced emergency landing. “We want to express our displeasure because this has put the president’s life at risk.”
Morales’ plane had been scheduled to refuel in Portugal.
“We are told that there were some unfounded suspicions that Mr. Snowden was on the plane,” Choquehuanca said. “We do not know who has invented this lie. Someone who wants to harm our country. This information that has been circulated is malicious information to harm this country.”
Early on Wednesday, the Austrian Foreign Ministry confirmed that Morales was at Vienna airport, but Snowden was not on the plane.
“President Morales will leave early Wednesday morning for La Paz,” Bolivian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Schallenberg said.
The Bolivian president was in Moscow to attend a meeting of natural gas-producing nations.
Bolivia is one of the countries to which Snowden has applied for asylum.
Washington has asked Ecuador, Cuba, Venezuela, and Russia not to provide asylum to Snowden.
On June 6, The Guardian reported that a top secret US court order allows the US National Security Agency to collect data on the millions of US citizens who are customers of the phone company Verizon.
On the same day, the Washington Post reported that the NSA had direct access to internet servers, saying their source, a career intelligence officer, was horrified about the capabilities of the systems used by the US intelligence agency.
On June 9, Snowden admitted his role in the leaks in a 12-minute video posted by The Guardian.
The NSA scandal took even broader dimensions when Snowden revealed information about its espionage activities targeting friendly countries.
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