• France edition
 
Snowden affair: France apologises to Bolivia
French flags burned in La Paz as Snowden affair causes international dispute between France and Bolivia. Photo: Jorge Bernal/AFP

Snowden affair: France apologises to Bolivia

Published: 03 Jul 2013 10:28 GMT+02:00
Updated: 03 Jul 2013 18:15 GMT+02:00

Around 100 protesters burned French flags and threw stones at the French embassy in the Bolivian capital of La Paz on Wednesday as they vented their anger over claims France had banned President Evo Morales's plane from entering their air space.

"Hypocrite France! Colonizer France," shouted the protesters, who included representatives from indigenous groups.

"Fascist France, get out of Bolivia!" they chanted.

The protests which were mobilised by groups close to Morales followed accusations by Bolivia's Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca that France and other EUropean countries had cancelled air permits for the plane carrying the president, who was heading home from Moscow, after suspicions were raised that the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was hiding on board.

SEE ALSO: France set to reject asylum for Snowden

The Bolivian parliament will discuss a motion on Thursday that calls for the the French ambassador as well as the Italian and Portuguese envoys, to be expelled from the country.

"We will seek a declaration that these three ambassadors become persona non grata, out of respect for Bolivians but most of all out of respect for the life of the president," said opposition member Galo Bonifaz.

Morales had been in Moscow, where Snowden is currently holed up out of sight at the city’s airport, for energy talks.

As he began the journey home, suspicions began to spread that the fugitive former CIA operative might have been sneaked on board the plane bound for Latin America, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reports.

Foreign Minister Choquehuanca told reporters that both France and Portugal had subsequently cancelled authorization for the flight to pass through their air space at the last minute.

"They say it was due to technical issues, but after getting explanations from some authorities we found that there appeared to be some unfounded suspicions that Mr. Snowden was on the plane,” he told reporters.

"We don't know who invented this lie. We want to denounce to the international community this injustice with the plane of President Evo Morales," he added.

Choquehuanca said France’s decision had "put at risk the life of the president".

Later on Wednesday French President Francois Hollande said he had opened his country's airspace to the Bolivian presidential jet as soon as he knew head of state Evo Morales was aboard.

"There was conflicting information about the passengers who were on board," Hollande said in Berlin. "When I knew it was the plane of the Bolivian president, I immediately gave permission for it to fly" over French territory.

And Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius moved to quell the row by calling his Bolivian counterpart to "offer an apology" for not granting permission to the president's plane.

Morales’ plane was eventually allowed to refuel in Spain before flying on to Vienna where the plane landed with no sign of Snowden.

Bolivia is one of the countries to which Snowden has officially applied for political asylum. Bolivia’s left-wing president has previously suggested that Snowden’s application would be viewed favourably.

Bolivia’s defence minister Ruben Saavedra later told reporters that France had reconsidered its position and decided to allow the plane to fly through its airspace, but Italy and Spain were still refusing.

Later on Wednesday France said it had given permission for Bolivian President Evo Morales's jet to cross its airspace, after officials in La Paz claimed that overflight had been denied.

"The permission for overflight was indeed given," foreign ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot said but refused to confirm reports that it had not been initially granted.

The damage however had already been done with angry Bolivian authorities claiming that France had bowed to pressure from the United States in refusing to grant permission to the plane.

Saavedra said: "This is a hostile act by the United States State Department which has used various European governments."

The Bolivian government said it would be demanding explanations from both Paris and Lisbon over the affair. France’s refusal sparked an angry protest outside its embassy in the Bolivian capital La Paz. Bolivian authorities said further protests would he held in the near future outside the US embassy.

Morales's plane is still in Vienna whilst Bolivian officials try to work out their options for how to get the president home.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Tactical Argentina stun France in Paris
Photo: Frank Fife/AFP

Tactical Argentina stun France in Paris

Argentina produced a tactical masterclass to beat France 18-13 at the Stade de France in Paris on Saturday. READ  

French PM Valls arrives in Chad on regional trip
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls with President Francois Hollande. Photo: Philippe Wojazer/AFP

French PM Valls arrives in Chad on regional trip

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls arrived in Chad late Friday at the start of a two-day regional visit, in a show of support for a French-led anti-jihadist force. READ  

Sanofi still has a 'driver' despite shakeup
Photo: Jacques Demarthon/AFP

Sanofi still has a 'driver' despite shakeup

The temporary head of French drugmaker Sanofi insisted the firm still had a bright future Thursday, declaring there was still "a driver in the seat" despite a sudden change in leadership. READ  

EU could give France until 2015 on budget
France's Finance Minister Michel Sapin. File photo: Dominique Faget/AFP

EU could give France until 2015 on budget

The EU could delay a decision on France's budget overshoot until early 2015 instead of making a ruling next week as expected, sources said on Friday. READ  

France's 'first ladies': A look at the other halves
How does the actress Julie Gayet match up against Yvonne de Gaulle, Claude Pompidou, Anne-Aymone Giscard d'Estaing, Danielle Mitterrand, Bernadette Chirac, Cecilia Sarkozy and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy? Pho

France's 'first ladies': A look at the other halves

With François Hollande’s romance with Julie Gayet apparently blossoming, the actress looks set to become France's latest unofficial 'first lady'. Writer Amaryllis Barton takes a look back at her predecessors to see how they matched up. READ  

'Ten reasons the French can be proud of France'
Ten reasons why the French can be proud of France, (according to the government).Photo: AFP

'Ten reasons the French can be proud of France'

France has come in for a harsh criticism recently whether it's from British CEOs or budget chiefs in Brussels and Berlin. But the government has taken it upon itself to hit back by publishing ten reasons to be proud of the country. How many do you agree with though? READ  

Scandal forces another Hollande minister to quit
Kader Arif was a junior minister for veteran affairs. Photo: Alain Jocard/Pool/AFP

Scandal forces another Hollande minister to quit

A junior French minister resigned on Friday as a scandal implicating him in the awarding of lucrative public contracts to members of his family hit President François Hollande's Socialist government with another bruising. READ  

France gets a new map, but what's the point?
France is to get a new map, but what is the point of it all? Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

France gets a new map, but what's the point?

After a long and passionate debate about reducing the number of France's regions, the National Assembly finally voted for a new map with 13 regions this week. But after all the fuss, what's the point of the reform and is there any point to France's regions? READ  

North Korean student feared kidnapped in Paris
Paris prosecutors are investigating the disappearance of a North Korean student linked to political rivals of leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: AFP

North Korean student feared kidnapped in Paris

Paris prosecutors are investigating the disappearance of a North Korean student linked to political rivals of dictator Kim Jong-un, a judicial source said Friday. READ  

HSBC Private Bank hit by fraud charges in Paris
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

HSBC Private Bank hit by fraud charges in Paris

UPDATED: HSBC Private Bank, the Swiss subsidiary of British banking group HSBC, said on Friday it had been placed under formal investigation as part of a French tax fraud probe. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sponsored Article
Win your Christmas list: €250 at Marks & Spencer
National
Would background music make the RER in Paris feel safer?
Sponsored Article
Offer: Unlimited airmiles from British Airways
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Winter is coming to the French Alps
National
Trierweiler to break her silence... in the UK
Gallery
Don't confuse France with Paris: Here's ten reasons why
Sponsored Article
Live like a local - anywhere in the world
National
From the homeless to migrants: A portrait of modern France in ten stats
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
Culture
Are you brainy enough to be Miss France? Take the quiz
Gallery
France's most notorious celebrities. How many do you know?
Society
City of Love? Seven Paris myths debunked
Education
Why is France worst in the EU at English?
National
C'est pas possible! Paris is 'world's cheapest city for young people'
National
Looking to save space? France allows toilets in kitchens for first time
National
Find out how women in France are getting stung for a hidden tax
Culture
Which one is your favourite? The top 10 heartiest French winter dishes
Face Of The Week
Nabilla - 'France's Kim Kardashian' held for attempted murder
National
So who's scaring everyone by flying drones over France’s nuclear plants?
Education
Whoever thinks French was a dying language should read this
Politics
OPINION: 'One day France will be grateful to François Hollande'
Gallery
IN IMAGES: A history of France's most controversial architecture
National
How to make an 8-square-metre Paris apartment perfectly liveable
Gallery
VIDEO: France's raunchiest TV ads, including that infamous Perrier one
National
Five reasons why you should work a ski season in France and five not to
National
10 art exhibitions not to miss this autumn in Paris
Culture
What's on in France: 11 things to do this November
National
How French have you become? Take our quiz to find out
National
10 things to never say to a French person
National
Top 10: When French translations go wrong
National
Parisian bars that serve drinkers free meals
National
France falls to Germans in nude swim tourney
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Nowhere combines sex and art quite like France
National
Why you should never turn down an invitation to a French wedding
Sport
Discover the route of the 2015 Tour de France. There are a few surprises
Gallery
Ten changes that would make learning French so much easier
Culture
IN PICTURES: 'Glass ship' Vuitton ready to set sail in Paris
International
How a giant 'sex toy' earned an American artist a slap in Paris
National
'Unlike in the US the French don't put the blame on the poor'
Gallery
Cover up and don't be too Latin: French travel warnings for the US
Society
Macholand: The online uprising against sexism in France
Gallery
In pictures: The daily life of the 2,000 migrants in Calais
Culture
Erotic promo video earns the Musée d'Orsay our "Only in France" award
National
Seven reasons why everyone should work in a bar in France
National
The cost of expat home comforts: How France compares to Europe
International
Why don't Calais migrants stay in France? The Local went to find out
National
What are the pros and cons of working as an au pair in France?
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

489
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists
Click here for the full job description