Monday, May 24, 2021

It Was a ‘State-Sponsored Hijacking’ of a Ryanair Plane To Detain Journalist


 The decision by the Belarusian authorities to force a Ryanair plane to land in Minsk and to detain the Belarusian journalist and activist Raman Pratasiewicz is “a state-sponsored hijacking,” Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary said. According to the airline, there were also agents of the Russian KGB on board.

"It seems that the authorities intended to remove the journalist and the person accompanying him (...) we believe that there were several KGB agents (on board of the plane) who also disembarked at the airport," said O’Leary.

Ryanair's Athens-Vilnius flight was forced to land in Minsk on Sunday due to alleged explosives on board. Belarusian authorities dispatched a MiG-29 fighter jet, which flew in front of the airliner. After checking the plane, authorities did not confirm the information about the bomb. After the landing in the Belarusian capital, Raman Pratasiewicz and his partner, 23-year-old Sofia Sapiega, were detained. Pratasiewicz is a former co-editor of the 'Nexta' channel on Telegram recognized by the Belarusian authorities as "extremist." Sofia Sapiega is a Russian student at the European Humanities University, a Belarusian university operating in exile in Vilnius. 

The heads of the foreign affairs committees of nine national parliaments, including Poland, called for the suspension of Belarus's membership of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the cancellation of flights over the country. The United States condemned the scandalous action of the Belarusian government on Sunday. The European Union calls for an international investigation.

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