Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Diversion of Bolivian Plane Angers Latin American Leaders

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Diversion of Bolivian Plane Angers Latin American Leaders

Article excerpt

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Latin American leaders reacted with fury Wednesday to the diversion of the plane carrying Bolivia's President Evo Morales through European airspace, calling it a grave offense to all of their countries, unjustified by suspicions that the fugitive former U.S. security contractor, Edward J. Snowden, was on board.

Latin American leaders immediately called for an emergency meeting of the Union of South American Nations, expected to occur today. Argentina's President Cristina Fernndez de Kirchner said the episode had "vestiges of a colonialism that we thought was completely overcome," adding that it was a humiliating act that affected all of South America.

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa said in a Twitter post that the situation was "EXTREMELY serious" and called it an "affront to all America," referring to Latin America.

The diplomatic skirmish began with a seemingly offhand remark. Mr. Morales was flying home Tuesday from Moscow, where he had attended a meeting of natural-gas exporting nations, and had told Russian television that he was open to giving asylum to Mr. Snowden.

Mr. Snowden has been holed up at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow for more than a week, hoping to receive a positive response to the asylum requests he has made to several countries, and Mr. Morales' remark may have set off suspicion that he was bringing the fugitive aboard.

After taking off from Moscow, Mr. Morales' plane asked permission to land in France to refuel, according to Carlos Romero, the minister of government in La Paz. But France refused and denied the plane permission to enter French airspace, Bolivian officials said. Portugal had also previously refused to let the plane land for refueling in Lisbon.

Mr. Morales was finally given permission to land in Vienna, where he spent the night. Mr. Morales told reporters in Vienna that he had not met Mr. Snowden in Moscow, and that he had previously known little about the case.

Austrian Interior Ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundbck said the Austrian border authorities carried out a routine check of the passports of everyone aboard Mr. …

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