Morales heads home after diplomatic uproar

LAS PALMAS, Canary Islands (AP) — A plane carrying Bolivia’s president is continuing on to Bolivia after a refueling stop in the Canary Islands. But controversy continues to swirl around an earlier, unscheduled stop in Austria.

The plane carrying Evo Morales from Moscow was re-routed to Austria, where it remained overnight — allegedly because of suspicions that Morales was trying to bring NSA leaker Edward Snowden with him to Latin America.

Bolivia accused the United States of ordering European countries to block the flight from their airspace. But it’s unclear whether those countries did, in fact, block the plane — and if so, why. Officials in Spain, France and Portugal all say the plane was allowed to cross their territory.

The stop in Austria may have been caused by a dispute over where the plane could refuel, and whether European authorities could inspect it for signs of Snowden. Austrian officials say the plane was, in fact, searched early today by Austrian border police after Morales gave permission. Officials say Snowden wasn’t on board.

Morales himself had sparked speculation that he might try to help Snowden get out of Moscow, where he’s been in legal limbo at an international airport terminal. Morales said his country would be willing to grant him asylum.

%@AP Links

143-v-27-(Charles de Ledesma, correspondent)–French officials are denying that France refused to let the Bolivian president’s plane cross over French airspace amid suspicions that NSA leaker Edward Snowden was aboard. Correspondent Charles de Ledesma reports. (3 Jul 2013)

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092-a-12-(Andrew Weiss, vice president for studies, Carnegie Endowment, and former Russian affairs director on the National Security Council, in AP interview Tuesday)-”U.S. law enforcement”-Andrew Weiss, a former Russian affairs director on the National Security Council, says neither Edward Snowden nor Russia appear to have many options. (3 Jul 2013)

<<CUT *092 (07/03/13)££ 00:12 “U.S. law enforcement”

APPHOTO EM104: The Bolivian presidential plane believed to be carrying President Evo Morales leaves the Gran Canaria airport in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria island, Spain Wednesday June 3, 2013. Bolivia’s president left Europe for home on Wednesday amid diplomatic drama after his flight was rerouted and delayed overnight in Austria, allegedly because of suspicion he was trying to spirit NSA leaker Edward Snowden to Latin America. The plane was rerouted to Vienna on Tuesday night, adding a new twist to the international uproar over Snowden’s revelations of widespread U.S. surveillance. (AP Photo/Andres Gutierrez) (3 Jul 2013)

<<APPHOTO EM104 (07/03/13)££

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