Bolivian President Evo Morales urged European countries to “free themselves from the US empire” as he arrived home late on Wednesday after his plane was diverted because of suspicions that US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden was traveling with him.
Morales received a hero’s welcome from dozens of cheering supporters when his aircraft touched down near La Paz almost 17 hours after leaving Vienna, an Agence France-Presse reporter saw.
The jet, on its way home from Moscow, had been forced to land in the Austrian capital after several European nations denied it overfly rights, in an incident that sparked a diplomatic row and was likened by Morales to a “13-hour kidnapping.”
“Some countries of Europe have to free themselves from the US empire,” Morales told his supporters at the airport, who carried flowers, threw confetti and waved national flags.
“They are not going to frighten us, because we are a people with dignity and sovereignty,” he said.
Bolivian officials said France, Italy, Spain and Portugal initially denied his plane the right to fly through their air space late on Tuesday amid concerns that Snowden was aboard.
Late on Wednesday, a group of about 100 protesters threw rocks and firecrackers at the French embassy in the Bolivian capital, smashing windows. They also burned French flags.
France has since apologized for temporarily refusing entry to Morales’ jet, with French President Francois Hollande saying there was “conflicting information” about the plane passengers.
Snowden is seeking to avoid US espionage charges after leaking embarrassing details of a vast US phone and Internet surveillance program that has alarmed Washington’s foreign allies. The 30-year-old is currently holed up at a Moscow airport looking for a country that will give him safe haven.
Bolivia is one of 21 countries Snowden has asked for asylum. Morales said earlier this week that his country would be willing to study the request.
Once the European countries lifted their objections, Morales flew home via Spain and Brazil, where it made refueling stops.
Latin American nations have expressed outrage over the plane diversion.
Argentine President Cristina Kirchner called the European countries’ behavior “colonialist.” Her Brazilian counterpart Dilma Rousseff said she was “indignant.”
A meeting of a South American grouping called UNASUR was to convene yesterday to analyze the way Morales was treated.
‘HERO OF THE ERA’: President Tsai Ing-wen expressed deep sadness at Lee’s passing, and told the government to assist his family with all their needs Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) passed away at 7:24pm yesterday at Taipei Veterans General Hospital. He was 97 years old. The hospital stated the cause of death as septic shock and multiple organ failure. Lee had been hospitalized there since February, when he choked on a mouthful of milk at home. He was later diagnosed with pulmonary infiltrates and aspiration pneumonia. The hospital said that Lee had been treated with antibiotics, but that his health had not improved, as his advanced age and diabetes had inhibited his immune system and led to recurring infections. During his hospitalization, Lee underwent daily kidney dialysis, which removed
‘WEAK POSITIVE’: The man arrived in Taiwan in May and was quarantined for two weeks, Chen Shih-chung said, adding that he might be infected a long time ago The government is considering tightening mask-wearing rules again in light of a potential domestic COVID-19 infection, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases, six of which are imported. The other case involves a Belgian engineer who entered Taiwan on May 3 and remained in quarantine until May 17, said Chen, who heads the CECC. Although the source of infection has yet to be identified, the case could end the nation’s record of not having any domestic cases in the previous 110 days. The Belgian, in his 20s, is a technician
RECEIVING TREATMENT: President Tsai Ing-wen, Vice President William Lai and Premier Su Tseng-chang visited former president Lee Teng-hui yesterday morning Taipei Veterans General Hospital yesterday rebutted speculation that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had died a day earlier, saying that he was weak, but receiving treatment. The hospital said the 97-year-old Lee was not in good condition and needed ongoing care, adding that if there are any changes in his condition, it would make those public. The comments came after rumors emerged online on Tuesday that Lee had died after being hospitalized since early February. Soon after the unsubstantiated rumors emerged, reporters started flocking to the hospital seeking confirmation. Lee was admitted to Taipei Veterans General Hospital on Feb. 8 after choking while drinking
THAI CASE UPDATE: Twenty-nine close contacts of the worker have been tested with two types of tests, including 18 dorm mates, with 28 negative results so far Five imported cases of COVID-19, four from the Philippines and one from Hong Kong, were reported yesterday, bringing the total confirmed cases in Taiwan to 467, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. The four returning from the Philippines were on the same flight, and the local health department has identified 15 people who had direct contact with them — including 10 passengers in the two rows in front or behind them, who have been put under 14-day home isolation, and five crew members, who will practice 14-day self-health management, said Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang