Updated: Bolivian President's plane diverted on flight from Russia over suspicions Snowden was on board
Bolivian officials say President Evo Morales' private plane was rerouted to Vienna, Austria last night after France and Portugal refused to allow it into their airspace over concerns NSA leaker Edward Snowden was on board. Italy shut the door, too. By various reports, the plane was searched, and Snowden was nowhere to be found. A Bolivian official said the South American nation is outraged, and they "have the suspicion" the US is to blame for the unprecedented decision to close airspace to the president's plane. The flight was eventually allowed to continue, after Spain granted them permission to refuel in the Canary Islands. As of 10am ET, the plane is en route over the Atlantic, and you can track it here.
The Guardian has a liveblog with good coverage. Less than a week ago, US President Barack Obama said, "I'm not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker." As many Twitter comedians have pointed out, Snowden just turned 30, so that may explain last night's drama.
If the story is as it appears, the United States has the power to compel other nations to ground a plane carrying a head of state, on the suspicion that it is carrying a whistleblower who says he exposed unjust secrets in an act of conscience. But the story may not be as it appears.
Here's the official statement from the Bolivian government, denouncing what it describes as an unprecedented act of "imperialist" aggression, and the effective "kidnapping" of its president, in violation of international law. Morales calls on the leaders of the countries that denied his plane to explain their "repressive policies."