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Protest at French embassy over Morales jet diversion


About 100 protesters threw stones and burned the French flag at Paris's embassy in La Paz Wednesday, as Bolivians expressed rage over France's decision to deny their president's aircraft permission to enter its airspace.

"Hypocrite France! Colonizer France," shouted the protesters, who included representatives from indigenous groups.

"Fascist France, get out of Bolivia!" they chanted.

The demonstration sprang up after the French government refused to let a plane carrying President Evo Morales to enter, amid fears it might be harboring fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in Bolivia's legislature proposed a bill urging the expulsion of envoys representing the governments of France, Portugal and Italy.

"On Thursday we are going to propose that the foreign ministry declare the ambassadors from France, Portugal and Italy personae non grata," lawmaker Galo Bonifaz told a Bolivian news website.

Those three nations were among several countries in Europe to deny access to the Bolivian leader.

Morales's jet was held up in Vienna for 13 hours after being forced to land in Austria, where it was searched to determine if Snowden as aboard, then permitted to fly on to Bolivia, where it was due to arrive later Wednesday.

The plane resumed its trip to Bolivia after making a brief technical stop on Spain's Canary Islands after being diverted to Vienna.

Morales had been on a visit to Moscow, where he attended a meeting of natural gas-producing nations in Moscow and met with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

After being diverted to Austria, his presidential plane was allowed to land at the airport at Las Palmas on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria for about an hour before resuming its flight.

Snowden has been stranded in an airport transit zone in Moscow since June 23. He is seeking to avoid US espionage charges for revealing a vast surveillance program to collect phone and Internet data.

The 30-year-old reportedly has applied for asylum in 21 countries, including Bolivia.