Belarus’ forced diversion of a plane and arrest of a journalist who was on board has widened a rift between Western powers and Minsk, prompting calls for further sanctions and an international probe over the incident.
Minsk forced the Ryanair flight from Athens, Greece, to Vilnius, Lithuania, to land in the Belarusian capital on Sunday after it scrambled a fighter jet, allegedly in response to a bomb threat.
On its landing, Belarusian authorities took Roman Protasevich, a 26-year-old journalist who has been critical of the government, into custody. His whereabouts remain unknown.
Protasevich is wanted in Belarus on “extremism” charges. He is accused of organising mass riots against the country’s longtime President Alexander Lukashenko, as well as inciting social hatred – allegations he denies.