Bolivia's President Evo Morales's plane was diverted on a flight from Russia and forced to land in Austria on Tuesday (July 2), over suspicions that Edward Snowden might be on board, as several countries spurned the former U.S. spy agency contractor's asylum requests.
France and Portugal abruptly cancelled air permits for Morales' plane, forcing the unscheduled stopover in Vienna.
There was no evidence that Snowden, wanted by Washington for espionage after divulging classified details of U.S. phone and Internet surveillance, had left the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport.
An Austrian Foreign Ministry official said rumours that Snowden was on the plane were untrue.
Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca furiously accused France and Portugal of putting Morales' life at risk and insisted that Snowden was not on Morales's plane.
The diversion of Morale's plane on Tuesday was another strange turn in the 30-year-old American's cat-and-mouse game with the United States.
Bolivia is among more than a dozen countries where Snowden has sought asylum and Morales, who was attending an energy conference in Russia this week, has said he would consider granting the American refuge if requested.
Presented by Adam Justice