“They’ll execute me here.” — Raman Protasevich.
Belarus has diverted a Ryanair flight flying over its territory and forced it to land in Minsk, and has arrested a passenger, journalist and activist Raman Protasevich.
U.S. Ambassador to Belarus Julie Fisher:
Lukashenka and his regime today showed again its contempt for international community and its citizens. Faking a bomb threat and sending MiG-29s to force
@RyanAir to Minsk in order to arrest a @Nexta journalist on politically motivated charges is dangerous and abhorrent.
The flight was diverted to Minsk national airport due to a bomb threat. Minsk confirmed it had scrambled a Mig-29 fighter to escort the plane.
Lithuania’s Prime Minister:
An act of war.
Raman Pratasevich is a Belarusian journalist, photographer, blogger, and activist. He worked as a photographer for the largest Belarusian media, was a fellow of the Vaclav Havel Journalism Program.
In 2019, he left Belarus due to cooperation with Nexta telegram channel, then became its editor. He actively covered the events of the 2020 elections & the subsequent protests. Security forces started several criminal cases against him, KGB put him on the list of terrorists.
Please pardon the tweet-heavy story as details are breaking and conflicting reports are sorted out. Official story is changing between ‘disturbance’ and ‘bomb threat.’
Flight tracking data shows that Vilnius airport was closer.
FM Jean Asselborn of Belgium: “This act is unacceptable and warrants an international investigation!”
Prime Minister of Estonia:
International media responds:
The plane is in the air:
On the ground in Vilnius, 2:30 PM Washington time.