Posted by: Chuck | July 3, 2013

Bolivian leader’s plane rerouted on Snowden fear


VIENNA, Austria (AP) The plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales was rerouted to Austria Tuesday after France and Portugal refused to let it cross their airspace because of suspicions that NSA leaker Edward Snowden was on board, Bolivian officials said. Officials in both Austria and Bolivia said that Snowden was not on the plane, which was taking Morales home from a summit in Russia, where he had suggested that his government would be willing to consider granting asylum to the American. A furious Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said France and Portugal would have to explain why they canceled authorization for the plane, claiming that the decision had put the president’s life at risk.

“We don’t know who invented this lie” that Snowden was traveling with Morales, Choquehuanca said in La Paz. “We want to denounce to the international community this injustice with the plane of President Evo Morales.” He said that after France and Portugal canceled authorization for the flight, Spain’s government allowed the plane to be refueled in its territory. From there the plane flew on to Vienna. French government officials reached overnight said they could not confirm whether Morales’ plane was denied permission to fly over France.

Officials at Portugal’s Foreign Ministry and National Civil Aviation Authority could not be reached to comment.

Snowden, a former NSA systems analyst, have revealed the NSA’s sweeping data collection of U.S. phone records and some Internet traffic, though U.S. intelligence officials have said the programs are aimed at targeting foreigners and terrorist suspects mostly overseas.

He is believed to be in a Moscow airport transit area, seeking asylum from one of more than a dozen countries.

“This is a plot by the U.S. government to destroy president Morales’ image,” said Bolivian Defense Minister Ruben Saavedra at the VIP terminal of Vienna’s airport. “We want to declare very firmly that it was an American story that Edward Snowden was on this flight.”

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