(ANSA) - Rome, July 3 - Bolivian Defence Minister Ruben
Saavedra said Wednesday that Italy, among other countries, had
denied use of its airspace to Bolivian President Evo Morales
amid suspicion that US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden was on
board his plane.
Qualified Italian sources confirmed the statements to ANSA
but said the airspace has since been reopened.
The sources stressed that Italy, given its defence alliance
with other European countries, followed the lead of France and
Portugal after they denied access to their airspace.
Morales' plane was diverted to Austria overnight after
leaving Russia where some suspected he had smuggled Snowden out
of the Moscow airport in order to attain asylum in Bolivia,
which is among the 20 countries where the former National
Security Agency was seeking refuge.
"This is a hostile act by the United States state
department which has used various European governments," said
Saavedra, who was also aboard the flight.
Austrian spokesmen said Snowden was not on board the
Bolivian leader's plane.
Snowden is wanted for espionage in the U.S.
a secret, wide-ranging Internet-and-telephone-surveillance
program there last month.
He has been holed up in the Moscow airport since the US
revoked his passport after he arrived from Hong Kong on 23 June.
Morales' aircraft is expected to depart Austria for Bolivia