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Bolivia Says Morales' Plane Diverted, Possibly Over Snowden

posted 2 Jul 2013, 16:47 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 2 Jul 2013, 16:47 ]

Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca denies Snowden is on board President Evo Morales' plane after it is denied air space over Portugal and France.

LA PAZBOLIVIA (JULY 02, 2013) (GOVERNMENT TV) -  Bolivia reported on Tuesday (July 02) that President Evo Morale's plane was denied access to airspace over Portugal and France possibly amid "unfounded suspicions" that former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowdenwas on the aircraft.

Calling a news conference in La Paz, Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said the rumour was spread by someone wanting to hurt the leftist South American country.

"There were unfounded suspicions that Mr. Snowden would be on this plane. We do not know who invented this lie. Someone wants to hurt our country," he said.

Officials reported Morale's plane had to make an unscheduled stopover in Viennawhile travelling back to Bolivia from Moscow.

Choquehuanca demanded explanations from Portugal and France after the European countries had abruptly cancelled air permits for the presidential plane.

"Portugal needs to explain to us, France needs to explain to us why they had cancelled (permission to use their airspace). Besides, this plane is French and has pilots trained in France. We are in communication with authorities. We consider that it could possibly be because of statements from President Morales over the case of Mr. Snowden who has asked for asylum. We're going to analyse this. They want to intimidate us, it is discrimination towards our president. It has endangered the life of the president," he added.

Choquehuanca said the South American nation had stuck to diplomatic norms and international aviation regulation when flying Morales' plane from a recent Russian trip.

"We can't lie to the international community. When you acquire permission to fly and land it is because you have given all information of who is on the plane, who are the crew of the plane. And knowing all this information, they give us authorisation. We cannot lie to the international community about taking ghost passengers," Choquehuanca told media.

Bolivia has said it would consider an asylum request by the U.S. spy agency contractor but earlier this week Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera said that none had been received.