Bolivia presses Europeans on diverted flight

8th July 2013, Comments 0 comments

Bolivia demanded Monday that France, Spain, Italy and Portugal explain why they refused permission for President Evo Morales to cross their air space last week.

Morales's plane was forced to make an unplanned stop in Vienna on Tuesday after his flight path home was blocked, apparently on suspicion that US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden was aboard his aircraft.

"The Bolivian government has summoned the ambassadors of Spain, France, Italy and Portugal to explain what happened to the presidential plane and President Evo Morales," Communications Minister Amanda Davila said.

She said the government had decided to "initiate all necessary actions until it has a clear explanation and a direct and unambiguous apology by those countries."

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the US embassy in La Paz, demanding that the US diplomatic mission be closed.

Before dispersing, they set fire to US, Spanish, French and Portuguese flags and a mock coffin with US President Barack Obama's name on it.

The diplomatic incident occurred as Morales was returning from Moscow where he had suggested Bolivia might grant Snowden asylum.

The former National Security Agency contractor, on the run since disclosing details of US intelligence surveillance programs, was believed to be holed up in transit at a Moscow airport.

Bolivia has since joined Venezuela and Nicaragua in offering Snowden asylum if he requests it.

Morales said last week he would not hesitate to close the US embassy in La Paz if Washington proved to have been responsible for blocking his flight path.

He raised the issue with the UN high commissioner for human rights and his interior minister, Carlos Romero, planned to raise it Tuesday at a special session of the Organization of American States.

© 2013 AFP

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