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Bolivia Blasts Austria for Detaining President

  • VOA News

Bolivian President Evo Morales talks to journalists at the Vienna International Airport in Schwechat, July 3, 2013.

Bolivian President Evo Morales talks to journalists at the Vienna International Airport in Schwechat, July 3, 2013.

Bolivia has criticized Austria for diverting the Bolivian president's plane on suspicion it was carrying fugitive U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

Bolivia's U.N. envoy, Sacha Llorienti Soliz, accused Austria of "kidnapping" President Evo Morales and of bowing to U.S. pressure.

Morales flew home Wednesday after 12 hours in Vienna, during which Austrian authorities searched his plane.

The incident took place as Morales was flying home from a summit in Moscow, where Snowden has been in an airport transit area since fleeing Hong Kong last month. Officials said Snowden was not on board the plane, which landed in Austria after France and Portugal apparently refused to let it cross their airspace.

Morales had said he would consider granting Snowden asylum if a request is made. The former U.S. National Security Agency contractor faces U.S. espionage charges for leaking secret intelligence information.

Separately, France has called for a temporary suspension of free trade talks between the U.S. and European Union because of media reports that Washington was spying on the E.U.

France called for the delay on Wednesday, after Germany's Der Spiegel magazine published reports of alleged spying that it said was based on information from Snowden.

WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy group that has supported Snowden, said it has submitted asylum requests on Snowden's behalf.

However, Snowden's prospects for asylum are narrowing. Several of the at least 19 countries he is considering say he cannot request asylum until he is on their soil, or have rejected him outright.

On Tuesday, a Russian official said Snowden dropped his bid for asylum in Russia after President Vladimir Putin said he could stay in the country only if he stopped leaking sensitive U.S. intelligence.

WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy group that has supported Snowden, said it has submitted asylum requests on Snowden's behalf.

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