The presidential aircraft was forced to land after several European countries denied permission to enter their airspace amid reports that former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden might be aboard
VIENNA – Bolivian President Evo Morales’s official plane was diverted to Vienna and kept on the ground for more than 13 hours while it was searched overnight by authorities who suspected that former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden might be aboard.
The presidential plane was forced to land in Vienna around 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday because France and several other European countries refused to allow it to enter their airspace.
“This is not just a provocation against Evo Morales, but against Bolivia and all of Latin America. It is aggression against Latin America by some European countries,” the president said.
Morales and his delegation, which includes Defense Minister Ruben Saavedra, took off Wednesday for Spain’s Canary Islands, where they planned to refuel before continuing on to La Paz.
Morales said Spain had also banned the aircraft from entering its airspace, but Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said Wednesday that there was “no prohibition and authorities had approved the stop in Gran Canaria on Tuesday.
The French government did not say why it prohibited the Bolivian presidential plane from entering its airspace, while officials in Lisbon said Morales’s plane was not allowed to land in Portugal for “technical reasons” but no ban was ever imposed on entering the country’s airspace.
Bolivia’s ambassadors to France and Italy, and the consul in Portugal are being recalled to explain why the presidential plane was denied permission to enter the airspace of the three European countries, Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera said. EFE