The United States strongly condemns the forced diversion of a flight between two EU member states and the subsequent removal and arrest of journalist Roman Protasevich in Minsk. It is reported by the US Department of State.
"This shocking act perpetrated by the Lukashenka regime endangered the lives of more than 120 passengers, including U.S. citizens. Initial reports suggesting the involvement of the Belarusian security services and the use of Belarusian military aircraft to escort the plane are deeply concerning and require full investigation. We are closely coordinating our response with our partners, including the EU and Lithuanian and Greek officials. Given indications the forced landing was based on false pretenses, we support the earliest possible meeting of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization to review these events," the statement reads.
In addition, the State Department condemned the arbitrary detention of journalists by the Belarusian authorities and demanded the release of Protasevich, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country.
As we reported, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen called for swift sanctions after Belarus’s authoritarian ruler forced a Ryanair plane to land in Minsk and detained a prominent opposition journalist.
“The outrageous and illegal behaviour of the regime in Belarus will have consequences. Those responsible for the Ryanair hijacking must be sanctioned,” von der Leyen wrote on May 23 in a late-night tweet.
Earlier, the founder of the largest opposition telegram channel of Belarus NEXTA, journalist Roman Protasevich, was detained in Minsk.
The plane with Roman Protasevich on board flew from Athens to Vilnius. Suddenly, the plane gave a distress signal, changed course and made an emergency landing at the Minsk National Airport. The emergency landing was caused by a mining signal.