Bolivia accused European countries of an “act of aggression” for refusing to allow its presidential jet into their airspace, amid rumors US fugitive Edward Snowden was on board.
Bolivian President Evo Morales flew out of Austria on Wednesday after police inspected his jet and found that Snowden was not on board in an incident that has sparked a diplomatic row.
Morales lashed out at European countries for denying his jet entry into their airspace overnight, dragging his country into the escalating US spying scandal.
“I am not a delinquent,” Morales told reporters at Vienna airport where his plane was held up for more than 12 hours.
Bolivia’s UN envoy Sacha Llorenti said the country would file a complaint to UN chief Ban Ki-moon over the diversion which he said “violated international law”.The diversion was an “act of aggression” against Bolivia and tantamount to “kidnapping” Morales, he told reporters in Geneva.
The Austrian interior ministry said airport police carried out a “voluntary inspection” of the jet, confirming Snowden was not on board. The jet was carrying just five crew and six passengers, it said. The plane eventually left Vienna shortly before 1200 GMT after Spain opened its airspace. The jet was on its way to the Spanish Canary Island of Las Palmas for servicing before continuing on to Bolivia.
The diversion of the flight, which originally took off from Moscow, occurred late Tuesday just hours after Morales said his country would consider giving political asylum to 30-year-old Snowden if he submitted one.
Bolivian officials accused France, Portugal, Italy and Spain of initially denying airspace to Morales’s plane, forcing it to reroute over the groundless rumours that Snowden was travelling with Morales.