Bolivians condemn US ‘act of aggression’ after Snowden search

No unauthorised people were found on board Bolivia's President Evo Morales's plane at Vienna airport on Wednesday when Austrian authorities carried out an inspection.

Bolivian Deputy Chancellor Michael Spindelegger confirmed this.

The plane was forced to land in Austria after France and Portugal abruptly cancelled air permits for it while en route from Moscow on Tuesday, apparently due to fears fugitive ex-US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden could be on board.

Bolivian and Austrian officials denied this.

Morales angrily denied any wrongdoing after the search.

"I'm not a criminal," the Austria Press Agency quoted Morales as saying at Vienna airport, after France, Italy, Spain and Portugal denied his plane entry into their airspace overnight.

"Morales agreed to a voluntary inspection," Spindelegger told reporters at the airport.

Act of aggression
"Our colleagues from the airport had a look and can give assurances that no one is on board who is not a Bolivian citizen," Spindelegger added, saying rumours that Snowden might be on board were untrue.

The decision to search the plane was an act of aggression and a violation of international law, Bolivia said on Wednesday.

Bolivia's ambassador to the United Nations in New York Sacha Llorentty Solíz told reporters in Geneva that he had no doubt that the orders to divert Morales's plane came from the United States.

Bolivian and Austrian officials said Snowden was not aboard the plane which arrived from Moscow late on Tuesday.

The Russian capital is also where Snowden has been holed up in an airport transit area since June 23. He is seeking to avoid US espionage charges for revealing a vast surveillance programme to collect phone and internet data.

Morales told reporters that Madrid had asked to inspect his plane before giving it permission to enter its airspace, a request he said he denied because it would violate international law.

Spain has since granted Bolivia permission to fly over its territory, the foreign ministry in Madrid said. – Sapa-AFP; Reuters

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Sapa Afp
Guest Author
Guest Author

Mask rules are not meant to ‘criminalise’ the public

Shop owners and taxi drivers can now refuse entry to people who defy mandatory mask-wearing regulations

Ramaphosa asks all South Africans to help to avoid 50...

Calling this ‘the gravest crisis in the history of our democracy’, the president said level three lockdown remains, but enforcement will be strengthened

Reinstated Ingonyama Trust managers hit with retrenchment notices

The effect of Covid-19 and the land reform department’s freeze of R23-million because the ITB didn’t comply with budget submissions are cited as some of the reasons for the staff cuts

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday