Bolivia’s President Evo Morales has threatened to close the US embassy in his country after his plane was rerouted over Europe earlier this week.
Morales made the comments as South America’s leftist leaders rallied around him over the incident. The president’s plane was rerouted on Tuesday after some European countries refused to allow his plane to fly through their airspace.
Morales was returning from a summit in Russia at the time, where he had suggested he would consider an asylum request from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Snowden is currently at a Russian airport after his US passport was revoked. Morales stated of the situation:
“We met with the leaders of my party and they asked us for several measures and if necessary, we will close the embassy of the United States. We do not need the embassy of the United States.”
Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro also spoke about Morales’ plane diversion, claiming that “Europe broke all the rules of the game.” The comments came as the two leaders, along with those of Ecuador, Argentina, and Uruguay, traveled to Bolivia for a meeting to discuss the diplomatic problem.
While the summit demanded answers from France, Portugal, Italy, and Spain, it did not mention the United States at all. The four European countries unexpectedly closed off their airspace to Evo Morales’ plane on Tuesday, forcing him to land and spend hours at an airport in Austria.
In a response, Spain explained on Friday that it and other European countries were given information that said clearly Edward Snowden was on the Bolivian president’s plane. On Spanish National Television, Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo explained, “They told us that the information was clear, that he was inside.”
However, he wasn’t. And Garcia-Margallo did not say where the information came from or if he had been in contact with the United States about the situation. Evo Morales suggested that the United States pressured the European countries into denying the plane permission to fly over.
Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, who previously suggested he would not grant asylum to Snowden, stated on Thursday that he and other leaders are offering Bolivia their full support. He called the rerouting of the Bolivian president’s plane an aggression against the Americas.
It is not clear whether or not Bolivia will actually close the US Embassy.