Bolivian leader’s jet held for hours amid suspicion of carrying Snowden

By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, July 3, 2013 7:29 EDT
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Bolivian President Evo Morales holds a press conference at Vienna International Airport on July 3, 2013. [AFP]
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Bolivian President Evo Morales’s jet left Vienna on Wednesday after it was diverted overnight on suspicion of harbouring fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.

The plane took off at 11:45 am local time (0945 GMT).

It was expected to stop in Las Palmas on the Spanish Canary Islands for servicing before completing its journey to Bolivia.

Austrian and Bolivian officials have insisted Snowden was not aboard the plane, which arrived from Moscow late Tuesday.

The diversion has sparked a diplomatic row, with Bolivia announcing protest rallies outside the embassies of European countries that denied Morales entry into their airspace, forcing his landing in Vienna.

The incident happened hours after Morales said that his country would consider a request for political asylum if Snowden submitted one.

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

[Image via Agence France-Presse]

Agence France-Presse
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