PARIS, July 3 (KUNA) -- France has apologized to Bolivia for an incident
Tuesday whereby French air traffic controllers refused transit rights over
this country for the plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales, official
sources said Wednesday.
France, along with Spain, Portugal and Italy closed its air space to a
flight carrying Morales from Moscow on his way back to Bolivia, allegedly
because the plane was also rumored to be carrying US espionage whistleblower
The former National Security Agency contractor is wanted by the United
States for divulging information on a massive US spying operation targeting
both American citizens but also the European Union and several diplomatic
missions, including the French embassy in Washington and the mission in New
France has reacted angrily to the reports on spying against its national
facilities and personnel and has called for US-EU free trade talks to be
suspended for two weeks, pending an explanation from Washington.
But the Bolivian plane incident has fuelled allegations that the European
powers ceded to US pressure to prevent Morales flying over their territory and
allegedly helping Snowden to flee.
The Bolivian leader was forced to land in Vienna where he remained
overnight and his plane was searched during the forced stop over.
Bolivia says it will lodge a complaint with the United Nations for breach
of international law and violation of conventions regarding diplomats and
Heads of State.
Demonstrators in the Bolivian capital, La Paz, protested violently outside
the French embassy on Wednesday, throwing stones at the building and burning
French and European flags.
French President Francois Hollande said in a press conference in Berlin on
Wednesday evening that as soon as he had learned Morales was aboard the
blocked plane, he ordered French air space to be opened for him.
The French Foreign Ministry confirmed this statement later.
Also on Wednesday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called his
Bolivian counterpart to express "the regrets of France following the
difficulty caused for President Morales by the delay in confirming the
over-flight rights" in France, a statement in Paris said.
Fabius said he had given the Bolivian government "the necessary
clarifications about the incident."
Nonetheless, it is still not clear if France did agree to close its
airspace to a flight because it was allegedly carrying Snowden, who has asked
over 20 countries for political asylum.
The US national, whose passport has been cancelled by his government, is
currently blocked in the transit zone at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and has
been there for almost two weeks. (end)
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