Snowden effect: Bolivian prez grounded due to US pressure

New Delhi, July 3: US President Barack Obama, who had said that he is not sending any jet to hunt whistleblower Edward Snowden, today halted Bolivians President's plane in mid-flight due to Snowden effect.

Last week Obama had said that he was "not going to scramble jets for some 29-year-old hacker," but the American pressure stopped Bolivain President Evo Morales' plane because it was suspected that he was ferrying Snowden from Moscow.

Morales aircraft was stranded at Vienna airport for several hours after Portugal and France abruptly canceled permits for it to fly through their airspace, and the Austrian authorities searched the plane for Snowden. Austria found no sign of him on board.

Morales was returning to Bolivia after an official visit to Moscow. Bolivia is among more than a dozen countries where Snowden has sought asylum and Morales has said he would consider granting the American refuge if requested.

Bolivia has, meanwhile, accused Austria of an act of aggression by searching President Morales' plane on Wednesday and blamed Washington for its forced landing in Vienna over suspicions that Snowden was on board.

The US whistleblower, who divulged details of a secret US government surveillance program, Prism, is believed to still be in the transit area of a Moscow airport, where he has been trying since June 23 to find a country that will protect him from prosecution in the United States on espionage charges.

Bolivia's ambassador to the United Nations told reporters in Geneva that Austria's decision to search the plane was an act of aggression and a violation of international law.

The envoy, Sacha Llorentty Soliz, said he had no doubt that the orders to divert Morales' plane came from the United States.

Wiki condemns plane detention

Meanwhile, WikiLeaks has accused Obama of "thin-skinned vindictiveness" after European governments denied airspace to an aircraft carrying the Bolivian President.

Julian Assange has also condemned the bugging of Ecuador's London embassy, where he is living, after Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino announced that a listening device had been found in the ambassador's office.

With agencies inputs

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