Bolivian President Evo Morales waves as he boards his plane prior leaving the Vienna International Airport on July 3, 2013.
‘An act of aggression and violation of international law’ is how Bolivia’s UN envoy described Austria’s decision to search the Bolivian presidential jet for NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
But the Bolivian defense minister now says President Morales’ plane was not searched in Austria and that no one boarded the plane because Morales resisted.
Defense Minister Ruben Saavedra said no one boarded the presidential aircraft – presumably to search for fugitive U.S. intelligence analyst Edward Snowden – because Morales refused them entry. However, Bolivia’s vice president said officials had made their way up to the door of the aircraft, according to Reuters.
Envoy Sacha Llorentty Soliz had told press in New York that he had no doubt the decision to search the plane originated from the US. The envoy has pledged to make an official complaint to the UN.
Austrian authorities grounded Bolivian President Evo Morales’ plane in Vienna early on Wednesday morning due to suspicions that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was on board. Morales allegdly refuted speculation that Snowden had stowed away on the plane and allowed authorities to conduct a search.[youtube height=”400″ width=”550″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNLiCSHawHo[/youtube]
“Our colleagues from the airport had a look and can give assurances that no one is on board who is not a Bolivian citizen,” Austrian Deputy Chancellor Michael Spindelegger told press, saying rumors that Snowden might be on board were untrue.
The move to detain the presidential plane triggered a wave of furious rhetoric from Latin American leaders who alleged it had been “kidnapped by imperialism.”
Morales called on the countries who had cancelled air permits for the presidential flight to explain their decision.
“The governments of France, Spain and Portugal must explain to the world the reasons behind this delay,” said Morales, adding that these actions were indicative of the “repressive policies” of some EU countries.
“This is an excuse to try and frighten, intimidate and punish me. An excuse to try and gag us in the fight against the dominant economic powers,” said Morales.
In response protesters burnt a French flag in front of France’s embassy in La Paz, the Bolivian capital.
People burn a French flag in front of France’s embassy in La Paz on June 03, 2013 .
While, Maria Luisa Ramos Urgazagaste, Bolivian ambassador to Russia warned that those countries responsible for the incident would be held responsible.
“From this moment on, if anything happens to President Evo Morales during the rest of his journey the only culprits will be those countries who orchestrated the shameful sequester of President Evo Morales on July 2,” she said in a statement to RT.
Ricardo Martinez Covarrubias, Bolivia’s Ambassador to Austria has called the incident “unprecedented in history.”
“Obviously, this event contradicts the very logic of cooperation and co-existence of states. It also violates international agreements and international law,” he said in an interview with Spanish language RT Actualidad. It was a display of “disrespect to the sovereignty of other countries,” the diplomat added.
The Union of South American Nations – the region’s version of the EU – is going to hold a meeting to discuss the situation, the Ambassador said.
“First of all, they’ll certainly strongly condemn such behavior. I’m sure that in future mechanisms to prevent such incidents will be found, so that what has happened would never happen to Evo Morales or any other plane…in case similar suspicions arise,” Covarrubias concluded.
Morales finally flew out of Vienna on Wednesday morning after being detained for over 12 hours in the airport. He will stop in the Canary Islands to refuel before flying on to La Paz, the capital of Bolivia.