3 min ago

Helen Davidson and I in Sydney are handing over the blog to our colleague Haroon Siddique in London.

Click here for a summary of events so far.

10 min ago

Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, has also railed against what he called an “affront to our America," and called on his fellow South American presidents to "take action”.

Posting on Twitter, Correa wrote: “Decisive hours for UNASUR! Either we graduated from the colonies, or we claim our independence, sovereignty and dignity. We are all Bolivia!”

Correa said he was trying to convene a UNASUR meeting with other South American leaders.

— Rafael Correa (@MashiRafael)July 3, 2013

Horas decisivas para UNASUR: o nos graduamos de colonias o reivindicamos nuestra independencia, soberanía y dignidad. ¡Todos somos Bolivia!

23 min ago

Another image has been tweeted by the Der Standard journalist Olivera Stajić. This one shows crew members sleeping at the airport, apparently whilst news reports of Edward Snowden are transmitted in the background.

— Olivera Stajić (@OliveraStajic)July 3, 2013

crew is sleeping. #snowden is on tv #morales #Viennapic.twitter.com/1ewT87Mv8Z

47 min ago

We have translated more tweets from Argentinian president, Cristina Kirchner. She says she is in regular contact with Morales and has expressed outrage at the ongoing diplomatic incident.

The president said she had spoken to Morales on the phone, and offered legal assistance.

According to the Guardian’s translations, Kirchner said “if Austria does not let them out or wants to check the plane, he can present to the International Court of Justice to ask for a preliminary injunction.”

“I don’t know whether to laugh or cry,” she continued, adding that they can send a judge to Austria.

“Mother of God! What a world!” she exclaimed.

Kirchner said she had spoken to Uruguay president José Mujica who was“indignant” at the “humiliating situation”, and she agreed.

Kirchner said she will also speak again with president Rafael Correa of Ecuador.

1 hour ago

Photographs of president Morales and defence minister Ruben Saavedra Soto at the Vienna international airport have arrived:

Bolivian President Evo Morales (L) and the Bolivian Defence Minister Ruben Saavedra Soto at the airport in Vienna, Austria Bolivian President Evo Morales (L) and the Bolivian Defence Minister Ruben Saavedra Soto at the airport in Vienna, Austria Photograph: HELMUT FOHRINGER/EPABolivian defence minister Ruben Saavedra Soto (L) and Bolivian President Evo Morales sit in a waiting lounge in Vienna airport Bolivian defence minister Ruben Saavedra Soto and Bolivian President Evo Morales sit in a waiting lounge in Vienna airport Photograph: HELMUT FOHRINGER/EPABolivian defence minister Ruben Saavedra Soto speaks to journalists as Bolivian President Evo Morales looks on in a waiting lounge in Vienna airport, Austria Bolivian defence minister Ruben Saavedra Soto speaks to journalists as Bolivian President Evo Morales looks on in a waiting lounge in Vienna airport, AustriaThe Bolivian presidential airplane is parked at the Vienna International Airport in Schwechat The Bolivian presidential airplane is parked at the Vienna International Airport in Schwechat

1 hour ago

Summary

Here is a summary of events so far:

  • A major diplomatic incident has occured after a jet carrying the president of Bolivia was rerouted to Austria. Various European countries prevented the plane from overflying their airspace, amidst suspicions NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was onboard.
  • Austrian foreign ministry officials subsequently said Snowden was not onboard. Morales, along with the Bolivian defence minister, remain at Vienna international airport.
  • The defence minister has said that France, Portugal, Italy and Spain had prevented the jet from entering their airspace. The airspace ban is still being enforced by Spanish authorities. He blamed the decisions on pressure from the US government.
  • A number of South American states have voiced outrage at the incident, and, according to Argentinian president Cristina Kirchner, the Peruvian president Ollanta Humala has called a meeting of the Union of South American Nations to discuss the ongoing events.
  • The Bolivian vice president, Alvaro Garcia, said Morales had been"kidnapped by imperialiam".

Updated 1 hour ago

2 hours ago

Argentinian president Cristina Kirchner has tweeted that she has been advised that Peruvian president Ollanta Humala will call a meeting of the Union of South American Nations to discuss ongoing events.

Kirchner said “tomorrow is going to be a long and difficult day. Be calm. They will not be able to.”

(This is the Guardian’s translation of her tweet in Spanish)

— Cristina Kirchner (@CFKArgentina)July 3, 2013

Me avisa que Ollanta va a convocar a reunión de UNASUR. Son las 00:25 AM. Mañana va a ser un día largo y difícil. Calma. No van a poder.

Updated 2 hours ago

2 hours ago

Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia has delivered a midnight press conference on the incident, AP reports.

He described Morales as being “kidnapped by imperialism” in Europe and said that the Spanish authorities were not allowing Morales’ plane to enter their airspace.

The ambassador for Spain in Austria has just informed us that there is no authorization to fly over Spanish territory and that at 9 a.m. Wednesday they would be in contact with us again

Updated 2 hours ago

3 hours ago

Tanja Malle the Austrian broadcast journalist present at Vienna international airport says Morales has spoken to journalists there. She has tweeted a number of his comments, which we have embedded below.

  • Malle says Morales has been in contact with Cristina Kirchner, the president of Argentina, and others in South America to organise a solution to the episode.
  • Malle says Morales has permission from Italy, France and Portugal to overfly their airspace, but is still waiting on Spain.

Here are her tweets:

— tanja malle (@scharlatanja)July 3, 2013

#Morales was talking to us for short: “Spain is asking its `friend` (=USA) how to proceed with our flight permission" #vienna #snowden

— tanja malle (@scharlatanja)July 3, 2013

#Morales "I´m in contact with Kirchner et alii in southAm they are working together on a solution/to build up pressure" #Vienna#Snowden

— tanja malle (@scharlatanja)July 3, 2013

#Morales: "Italy, France, Portugal: clear again; but not yet Spain”#vienna #snowden

— tanja malle (@scharlatanja)July 3, 2013

#Morales very disappointed by #Spain but looks calm and happy about South-American leaders strengthening his back. #vienna #Snowden

3 hours ago

Cuba’s Foreign Ministry have released a statement condemning the incident, CNN reports.

CNN quote an extract from the statement:

This constitutes an unacceptable, unfounded and arbitrary act which offends all of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The report also quotes Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino who has spoken to reporters. He said:

We consider this a huge offense, and I will call for a UNASUR special summit with foreign secretaries to discuss this issue.

Updated 3 hours ago

3 hours ago

Bolivian defence minister Ruben Saavedra has said that Portugal and France have reconsidered the airspace ban and will now allow Morales’ plane to overfly both countries, Reuters reports.

However, Saavedra says that Italy and Spain have refused to allow the plane to enter their air space.

It is unclear if these comments were made during Saavedra’s initial press conference or whether they were delivered subsequently.

He said:

Two countries have changed their positions, first France and now Portugal. We will patiently seek to resolve the negative position taken by Italy and Spain, according to international norms.

Updated 3 hours ago

3 hours ago

A journalist with Der Standard, a national daily newspaper in Austria, has tweeted another photograph of Morales at the airport.

— Olivera Stajić (@OliveraStajic)July 3, 2013

morales is in good mood 😉 #vienna #Snowdenpic.twitter.com/Y1Ms2xQQ8j

4 hours ago

My colleague Helen Davidson has spoken to Tanja Malle, an Austrian broadcast journalist who is at Vienna international airport and who tweeted photos of president Morales there earlier.

She says that Morales, the defence minister and the rest of the plane’s crew have gone into the VIP area of the airport.

Here are Tanja’s updates:

Most of the crew are now inside a [separate] room with Morales…

The crew said the are looking forward to leaving. They were told… hours ago that it would only take minutes.

Morales didn’t say anything. He was sitting on the couch next to the defence secretary, who was very angry. The rest of the Bolivians are just tired. They do not seem to be in a bad mood or anything.

Here is the full audio:

Updated 3 hours ago

4 hours ago

AP has updated its report to say that Morales remains at Vienna international airport. “Morales will remain at the airport until his plane has been cleared for take-off,” the report says.

Updated 4 hours ago

4 hours ago

I’ve just got off the phone with the WikiLeaks party campaign manager Greg Barns who has shared his thoughts on today’s extraordinary events.

Here is the audio:

Updated 4 hours ago

4 hours ago

Two photographs apparently showing the Bolivian president at Vienna international airport have been posted on Twitter. They claim to show Morales listening in to a press conference delivered by the Bolivian defence secretary.

They were taken by Tanja Malle, an Austrian radio journalist. My colleague Helen Davidson will be speaking to Tanja shortly. Here are the pictures in the meantime.

— tanja malle (@scharlatanja)July 3, 2013

#Morales listening to press conference by his defense secretarypic.twitter.com/RmypFwYY8R

— tanja malle (@scharlatanja)July 3, 2013

#Morales still smiling, crew hoping to leave #Vienna soonpic.twitter.com/GDkARV1k0u

5 hours ago

Our Washington bureau chief, Dan Roberts, has been assessing the potential fallout from the diplomatic row over the diversion of Morales’s flight to Vienna. He writes:

Though the White House declined to confirm whether it ordered Western European allies to block the diplomatic flight containing Bolivia’s president, the affair casts further doubt on promises made by Barack Obama that the US would “not scramble jets” to retrieve the whistleblower who has brought so much embarrassment upon his administration.

When the issue first threatened to overshadow delicate relations with major powers such as China and Russia, the US president went out of his way to stress that he would not expend political capital on “wheeling and dealing” just to bring a 29-year-old hacker to justice. Whether he was setting expectations low for the likelihood of Snowden’s capture, or genuinely trying to put the issue in proportion remains unclear, but events since have shown the White House is willing to act far tougher with smaller nations who might contemplate rebellion.

First, Washington successfully leant on Ecuador to reverse it’s support for Snowden’s asylum claim. Congressional leaders threatened to revoke valuable trade agreements and then vice president Joe Biden followed up with a more diplomatic phone call that led to a marked change in tone from Ecuador’s president.

On Tuesday afternoon, the State Department rejected allegations by Snowden that it was bullying nations into withdrawing support. Yet the apparent decision by French, Portuguese and possibly Italian authorities to revoke diplomatic overfly rights simply on the suspicion he might be on board the Bolivian flight suggests that Washington’s diplomatic arm-twisting does not need to be overt to be effective.

Of course, all the drama also has the added benefit of distracting attention from the impact of Snowden’s revelations. Obama’s top intelligence official, James Clapper, has just admitted lying to Congress over whether the US spies on its own people, but you wouldn’t know it from watching US TV right now.

5 hours ago

Bolivian Minister of Foreing Affairs, David Choquehuanca, speaks during a press conference in La Paz, Bolivia.  Bolivian Minister of Foreing Affairs, David Choquehuanca, speaks during a press conference in La Paz, Bolivia, Photograph: MARTIN ALIPAZ/EPA

Yesterday, 10:33pm

AP is reporting that Morales is now spending the night at a Vienna hotel. It also reports Austrian foreign ministry officials have confirmed that Snowden is not on the plane.

Yesterday, 10:09pm

AP reports that Venezuela’s foreign minister Elias Jaua has condemned the decision by France and Portugal to block the plane from its airspace. He claimed that changing a flight’s route without checking on how much fuel was left in the plane, put Morales’ life at risk.

He added:

All the countries that have denied permission for the flight of our brother president, Evo Morales, must be held responsible for his life and his dignity as president.

Yesterday, 9:52pm

Snowden is not on the plane, AFP reports

AFP are reporting that Austrian foreign ministry officials have confirmed Edward Snowden is not on the plane.

The report continues:

“President Morales will leave early Wednesday morning for La Paz,” the Bolivian capital, ministry spokesman Alexander Schallenberg told AFP. Austria did not know why Morales’s plane had landed there, he added.

Yesterday, 9:39pm

My colleague Helen Davidson has just been on the phone with general aviation staff at Vienna international airport.

Staff confirmed that the plane carrying Morales has landed there, and has not left. They said they were unable to say how many passengers were on board as they were not given a passenger list.

Yesterday, 9:27pm

My colleague in Washington Dan Roberts has just filed this report, which summarises the events so far.

He has also just spoken to White House officials, asking for their response to claims made by the Bolivian defence minister that Portugal’s decision to refuse Morales’ plane access to their airspace was influenced by the US.

White House officials say that these are questions for the Austrian and Portugese authorities to answer.

Updated Yesterday, 9:30pm

Yesterday, 9:17pm

Putin and Morales met on Tuesday. The Bolivian president, Evo Morales, right, met the Russian president Vladimir Putin earlier on Tuesday. Photograph: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

Yesterday, 9:15pm

Background

President Morales was returning to Bolivia from Russia where he had met with president Vladimir Putin at a summit of major gas exporters in the Kremlin.

Speaking to RT Actualidad, the Spanish-language service of the Russian broadcaster Russia Today, Morales said Bolivia had not received an asylum request from Edward Snowden, but hinted any request would be looked at favourably.

He said:

If there were a request, of course we would be willing to debate and consider the idea.

I know that the empires have an espionage network and are against the so-called developing countries. And in particular, against those which are rich in natural resources.

Updated Yesterday, 9:15pm

Yesterday, 9:05pm

Associated Press has published extracts from a statement issued by the Bolivian defence minister, Ruben Saavedra, who was also on the redirected plane.

It says the plane was allowed to land in Spain for refueling before flying on to Austria.

It describes the rerouting as a “hostile act” by the US goverment:

This is a hostile act by the United States State Department which has used various European governments

Updated Yesterday, 9:08pm

Yesterday, 8:54pm

Although Associated Press is reporting Morales’ plane has landed, the Guardian is still trying to confirm this.

MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes claimed to have found the plane on a flight radar website.

— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes)July 2, 2013

Here it is! FAB1 on http://t.co/siphv6Gzrp http://t.co/3n8i3joxSM#flightradar24

Updated Yesterday, 9:08pm

Yesterday, 8:45pm

CNN has interviewed the Bolivian defence minister, Ruben Saavedra, who has expressed outrage at the decision to reroute the president’s plane. He said the US government was behind the rumours that Snowden was on board.

“This is a lie, a falsehood,” he said. “It was generated by the US government.”

He added:

It is an outrage. It is an abuse. It is a violation of the conventions and agreements of international air transportation

Updated Yesterday, 9:09pm

Yesterday, 8:36pm

Associated Press broke the news in the last hour. Here is its original tweet:

— The Associated Press (@AP)July 2, 2013

Bolivian minister says Evo Morales’ plane was rerouted to Austria on suspicion that Snowden was on board. http://t.co/W3oCX7H2Md -MM

Updated Yesterday, 9:09pm

Yesterday, 8:29pm

The plane carrying the Bolivian president, Evo Morales, from Russia has been rerouted to Austria, following suspicions that the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was on board, leading to a major diplomatic incident.

The Bolivian foreign minister, David Choquehuanca, said French and Portuguese authorities refused to allow the plane to fly through their airspace. He added that rumours Snowden was on board were unfounded.

“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,” Choquehuanca told Associated Press.

Updated Yesterday, 8:53pm