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Bolivian president's jet grounded so officials can look for Snowden

Austria: 'It's OK... he's not here'

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Bolivian president Evo Morales was obliged to land in Vienna en route home from attending a gas exporters' conference in Moscow over suspicions that NSA-contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden might be aboard the presidential jet.

According to the BBC, Austrian officials who searched the jet have given the all-clear, while Spain has announced that its airspace is open to Morales' jet.

Bolivia had earlier accused France, Portugal and Spain of denying permission for the plane to pass over their airspace before it was diverted to Austria. France has denied refusing the jet access to its airspace.

The Austrians searched Morales’ plane for Edward Snowden, but found no stowaways on board, Austria’s deputy chancellor said to RT.

“We want to tell the people of the world that President Evo Morales has been hijacked by imperialism and is held in Europe," said Alvaro Garcia Linera, Bolivia's vice president, during a special press conference at the presidential palace in La Paz. Garcia Linera also claimed that Morales' detention in Europe breached the Vienna Convention.

Meanwhile, Ecuador is planning a diplomatic protest after its foreign minister Ricardo Patiño said a hidden microphone had been found in its London embassy, sanctuary for controversial WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange since June 2012.

The listening device was apparently found in the office of Ambassador Juan Falconi. The Ecuadorian government also suspects its emails have been intercepted.

Ecuador's foreign minister Ricardo Patiño announced the discovery on Tuesday during a press conference about Edward Snowden, saying "we are being infiltrated from all sides". At the time of writing it is unclear which country Ecuador suspects of planting the listening device.

Patiño promised to provide more details on the find on Wednesday, RT reports.

WikiLeaks also condemned the discovery of a bug in Ecuador's diplomatic mission as well as the interference with the Bolivian president's flight.

®

Bugnote

Planting bugs in foreign embassies or hotels restricted to foreigners has been a spying tactic for decades. For example, locals in Estonia joke that the designated hotel that foreigners were obliged to stay in within Tallinn during Soviet times was made of micro-concrete, because so many microphones were planted within its structure. The top floor of the Hotel Viru now houses a KGB museum.

Judging by his Twitter feed, Ecuador's foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, is far more indignant about the inconvenience to Morales' group in Austria than about the bugging of the Ecuador's London mission or similar snooping. He even joked about the efficiency of spies, after news agencies published a letter from Snowden hours before it was delivered to Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa.

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