A diplomatic incident has exploded in Europe after a Bolivian presidential flight was diverted to Austria based on unfounded fears that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was on board. France and Portugal allegedly refused permission for President Evo Morales' plane to enter their airspace for refuelling, forcing the craft to eventually touch down in Vienna.

A "plot by the US government to destroy president Morales' image."

"We don't know who invented this lie," said Bolivian foreign minister David Choquehuanca, in comments reported by the Associated Press. "We want to denounce to the international community this injustice with the plane of President Evo Morales." The country's defence minister, Ruben Saavedra, said that the Snowden rumors were a "lie" and part of a "plot by the US government to destroy President Morales' image."

French and Portuguese officials are yet to confirm details of the incident, but a spokesperson for the Austrian Foreign Ministry told the AP that Snowden was not with Morales. The Bolivian president was traveling from Russia, where Snowden has been holed up while seeking asylum with a host of other countries. In Moscow, Morales said that Bolivia would consider any asylum application from Snowden.