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17 Jul, 2013 11:29

‘Sorry is not enough’: Bolivia demands EU find culprits behind aerial hijack

‘Sorry is not enough’: Bolivia demands EU find culprits behind aerial hijack

EU apologies for the aerial blockade that forced the Bolivian president’s plane to land are “not enough,” said Bolivia’s foreign minister. The presidential plane was grounded amid suspicions that NSA leaker Edward Snowden had stowed away onboard.

The Bolivian Foreign Minister, David Choquehuanca, confirmed on Tuesday that Bolivia had received official apologies from Italy and Portugal, adding to those of Spain and France.

“Not only Spain has sent a verbal apology, but also Portugal and Italy have sent messages accounting for their actions,” said Choquehuanca at a press conference in the Bolivian capital of La Paz. However, Choquehuanca stressed that the apologies were not enough and the four countries “must identify those responsible and punish them in an exemplary fashion so that such an incident does not happen again.”

He went on to say that the apologies will be analyzed by the Bolivian government, adding that the countries in question would have “to repair the damage that has been done to the president.”

After attending an energy summit in Moscow, President Evo Morales’ plane was forced to abandon its home journey to Bolivia and land in the Austrian capital of Vienna on July 2. Italy, Spain, Portugal and France all closed their airspace amid suspicions that whistleblower Edward Snowden was onboard the presidential vessel. 

Bolivian President Evo Morales waves as he boards his plane prior leaving the Vienna International Airport on July 3, 2013. (AFP Photo/Patrick Domingo)

Latin America reacted with fury at what they denounced as the “kidnapping” of the Bolivian president. At a meeting of South American countries following the incident Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Uruguay resolved to withdraw their diplomatic missions from the offending EU countries. Bolivia will also withdraw its envoys. 

"We repudiate any action aimed at undermining the authority of countries to grant and fully implement the right of asylum,"
said the alliance of Latin American countries Mercosur. They also accused the EU countries of adopting a neo-colonial stance towards Bolivia.

It called for "solidarity with the governments of Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela,” all of which have offered asylum to the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Bolivia alleges that the US pressured the EU countries into blockading their airspace as an intimidation tactic.

Despite offers of political asylum from several Latin American countries, Edward Snowden is unable to leave Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport because he is not in possession of a valid passport. He has filed an application for temporary asylum in the Russian Federation, the receipt of which was confirmed by Moscow on Tuesday. According to Russian law the application could take up to three months to process.