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Snowden hunt: Bolivia complains to UN over 'abduction' of its president

9:44 AM, Jul 3, 2013   |    comments
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Bolivia said it would complain to the United Nations Wednesday over the "abduction" of its president, Evo Morales, whose plane was grounded amid a false rumor that NSA leaker Edward Snowden was on board.

The country reacted with fury to the enforced diversion of the plane, saying international law had been violated and that it would file a formal complaint to the U.N. Human Rights Commission.

Morales' jet took off from Vienna, Austria, on Wednesday morning almost 14 hours after they say was forced to land there because France, Portugal, Italy and Spain all denied it access to their airspace.

The aircraft was taking Morales home from Russia, where he had met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit for gas exporters. No unauthorized people were found on board.

"We want to tell Bolivians, we want to tell the world, that President Evo Morales, our president, the president of all Bolivians, was kidnapped in Europe today," Vice President Alvaro García Linera said late Tuesday in front of the official presidential residence in the capital, La Paz. "We want to say to the nations of the world that President Evo Morales has been abducted by imperialism and is being held in Europe."

In a statement from aboard his presidential plane Wednesday, Morales underlined the indignation and fury felt at the highest levels of the Bolivian government, and made a thinly-veiled attack on Western powers.

A senior U.S. official said there was no indication Tuesday that Snowden was anywhere but still in the transit area of a Moscow airport. When asked if it was possible Snowden had managed to leave the country on a foreign official's plane, the official said: "I've heard nothing remotely like that."

The incident was the latest turn in 30-year-old Snowden's attempt to evade the United States since he spilled details of a secret American government surveillance program called Prism.

By F. Brinley Bruton, Staff Writer, NBC News

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