Bolivia rejects 'strange, illegal' US extradition request for Snowden

Bolivia’s foreign ministry is condemning a request by the U.S. to extradite Edward Snowden, adding that it was outrageous for the request to be submitted on the same day the country’s president was held in Europe.

A plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales was forced to land in Austria on Tuesday after France and Portugal denied him access to their airspace. Morales was delayed for 12 hours after reports swirled that Snowden, who is wanted for leaking information about top-secret National Security Agency surveillance programs, was onboard.

In a statement released Wednesday, the foreign ministry repeated that Snowden never met Morales in Russia, where Snowden is reportedly camped out at an airport after fleeing Hong Kong last month. Snowden has applied for asylum in 20 countries, including Bolivia, and Morales has said he would consider Snowden’s request.

Bolivian officials said the “strange, illegal, unfounded and suggestive” extradition request would be returned to the U.S. immediately.

The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), a regional trade block, released a statement on behalf of its 12 members that called the search of Morales's plane “dangerous.”