Russia criticizes three EU countries for delaying Bolivian leader’s plane

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia criticized France, Spain and Portugal on Thursday for delaying the Bolivian president‘s flight home from Moscow this week over suspicions that former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden was on his plane.

There is no evidence Snowden was on board and, after the initial refusals to let the plane enter the European Union member states’ airspace, President Evo Morales was able to fly home on Wednesday after a forced stopover in Austria.

“The actions of the authorities of France, Spain and Portugal could hardly be considered friendly actions towards Bolivia,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement published on its website.

“Russia calls on the international community to comply strictly with international legal principles,” it said.

Morales had been attending a summit of natural gas exporters in Moscow, where Russian officials say Snowden has been in an airport transit area since flying in from Hong Kong on June 23, hoping to be granted political asylum in a third country.

The United States has been trying to get its hands on Snowden since he revealed details of secret surveillance programs and Morales has said he would consider granting the American refuge if requested.

Bolivia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Sacha Llorenti Soliz, has blamed the United States for Morales’ plane being blocked. The White House has declined to comment.

(Reporting by Thomas Grove, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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