Bolivians are outraged after airport authorities landed Bolivian President Evo Morales for almost 14 hours in Austria Tuesday, due to suspicions that National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden stowed away on the presidential plane.
After being denied entry into French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese airspace during a return flight from an energy conference in Moscow, pilots were forced to land the plane in Vienna. During the stop-over, Austrian authorities attempted to search the presidential jet for Snowden, but were stopped at the door, the Guardian reports.
Morales didn’t grant permission to search his plane, Bolivian officials said in a news release. According to the Vienna Convention, presidential air craft can’t be obstructed or searched, and retain full immunity.
In an emergency press session on Tuesday at the Presidential Palace in La Paz, Bolivia, Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera characterized the incident as “aggression and attack.”
While Bolivian officials directed outrage at Spain, France and Portugal, they specifically targeted the United States, charging that Austrian authorities demanded to search the jet at the behest of the U.S. government.
“We know that this blocking of the president’s journey has been instructed by the government of the United States,” Garcia Linera declared.
Morales’ landing has sparked Bolivian outrage, including demonstrations in front of European embassies in Latin American countries and calls by the Bolivian government to fight perceived imperialist advances.
“We want to say to the world that President Evo Morales, our president, the president of the Bolivians, presently is kidnapped in Europe; we want to say to the people of the world that President Evo Morales has been kidnapped by imperialism and is being held in Europe,” Garcia Linera announced.
“He is the first kidnap victim of imperialism,” the vice resident continued, “since he is not allowed to cross the airspace of European countries to return to our country, to Bolivia. Imperialism has kidnapped President Evo; imperialism has kidnapped the truth — the imperial lie has kidnapped the truth from the peoples.”
He went on to criticize the United States’ treatment of its own citizens’ rights, as well as the sovereignty of other nations, saying, “elevating the decadent and prostituted politics of empire, they appeal to terror, to fear, to the policed control of their own population and of the entire world and today of the first indigenous president of Latin America and Bolivia.”
Although Morales said he felt “like a hostage” while Austrian officials threatened to search his jet, he thanked Austrian President Heinz Fischer for quickly coming to the airport, according to a tnews release.
Morales is currently back on track and is set to arrive in Bolivia Wednesday night.