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Bolivia ambassador demands consequences for diverting president's plane

The Bolivian ambassador to the UN, Sacha Llorenti, claimed on Wednesday that it was an act of aggression for European countries to deny the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales [BBC profile], the right to fly through their airspace. Llorenti alleged that international law had been violated by those countries, and demanded that there be consequences [Washington Post report] for their actions. The countries that denied Morales access were apparently acting on a suspicion that he was smuggling Edward Snowden [BBC profile] on the plane with him. Snowden, an American NSA employee who allegedly leaked classified information, has taken refuge in an airport in Russia, and is seeking asylum in a number of countries. France, Spain, Italy and Portugal have all been accused of refusing Morales entrance to their airspace, but France and Spain have denied these allegations. Morales' plane, which was enroute from Moscow to Bolivia, was diverted and ultimately delayed in Austria, where it was searched. The suspicion that he was transporting Snowden seemed to arise after Morales indicated that Bolivia may consider offering asylum [Guardian report] to Snowden.

In June, Snowden, a former government contractor, was charged [JURIST report] with espionage for leaking top secret documents. The complaint charges Snowden with an unauthorized communication of national defense information, theft of government property, and willful communication of classified intelligence information. In an interview with the British newspaper The Guardian, Snowden said he released the material because he believed the surveillance violated the right to privacy. The Guardian released two documents [Guardian report], which revealed that the National Security Agency [official website] (NSA) had been granted power to make use of information unintentionally gathered from domestic US communications without a warrant. Reports that the NSA was collecting call data [JURIST report] from Verizon customers under a top secret court order emerged in early June. The order compels the production of metadata, including location, time and call duration, but does not include content of calls.

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