The U.S. government had no immediate comment.
Snowden, who revealed secret U.S. surveillance programs and fled to Hong Kong, then Moscow, to stay beyond American reach, was not aboard the plane, an irate David Choquehuanca, Bolivia’s foreign minister, told reporters after the Bolivian delegation landed in Vienna.
“We don’t know who invented this lie,” he said from Bolivia’s capital, La Paz.
Morales’s plane, ferrying him home from a conference in Moscow, was redirected to Vienna late Tuesday after France and Portugal refused to allow it to enter their airspace, Bolivian and Venezuelan officials said.
Authorities in Austria confirmed that the plane was searched and that Snowden, 30, was not on the flight. There was no indication that he had left Moscow, where he has been in diplomatic limbo for more than a week.
“Our airport staff have checked it over and can assure you that no one is on board who is not a Bolivian citizen,” Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger told reporters at the Vienna airport, Reuters news agency reported. He called it a “voluntary examination.” But Morales had told reporters that no Austrians had been on board.
Bolivia’s government responded angrily to the incident. Vice President Alvaro Garcia announced that the ambassadors of France and Italy and the consul for Portugal would be summoned to the Foreign Ministry in La Paz on Wednesday to explain what he called “the abuse” of redirecting Morales’s plane.
He said the representatives of those countries need to explain “these disagreeable, terrible and abusive events.”
The incident also raised the ire of governments and organizations across Latin America, which cast Morales’s troubles as a dire violation against a small country orchestrated by Washington. Even Colombia’s leftist rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), called the rerouting of the plane “an infamy.”
Jose Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States, which is based in Washington and is made up of governments across the Western Hemisphere, called for an explanation from the European countries that Morales’s government accused of blocking his plane’s flight path.
“Nothing justifies an action of such disrespect from the highest authorities of a country,” said Insulza, who is from Chile.
Choquehuanca said Morales’s plane was an hour from French airspace when it was told it could not enter. “Portugal has to explain to us,” he said. “France has to explain to us why they canceled” flight authorization.