Yesterday Ryanair Flight FR4978 took off from Athens, Greece at 9:29 a.m. native time in the direction of its vacation spot in Vilnius, Lithuania. However as flight FR4978 was about to exit Belarus airspace the flight all of a sudden made a pointy proper flip and headed to Minsk, escorted by a MiG-29 fighter ship from the Belarus army, reports Bloomberg.
When FR4978 touched down in Minsk, two of its passengers, journalist Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend, Sofia Sapega, have been promptly escorted off the aircraft and arrested by Belarusian police. Protasevich is a Belarusian journalist in exile who has been extremely essential of the Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko. Protasevich runs the favored Nexta Telegram channel, which performed a key function in organizing protests in opposition to Lukashenko final yr.
After Protasevich and Sapega have been escorted from Flight FR4978, it was allowed to take off once more and proceed to its unique vacation spot, in keeping with an announcement from Ryanair.
Our FR4978 flight has landed safely in Vilnius at 19:25hrs UK time (21:25hrs native time). Right here is Ryanair’s assertion on at the moment’s diversion to Minsk Airport ???? pic.twitter.com/i0xhdpwTAF
— Ryanair Press Workplace (@RyanairPress) May 23, 2021
Nonetheless, as soon as the implications of what occurred turned clear, Ryanair launched one other assertion:
Our up to date assertion relating to yesterday’s (23 Might) diversion of FR4978. pic.twitter.com/BANHrDvXMq
— Ryanair Press Workplace (@RyanairPress) May 24, 2021
The response to the diversion of Flight FR4978 from western leaders has been swift, with some calling the act “state terrorism” by Belarus.
The outrageous and unlawful behaviour of the regime in Belarus could have penalties.
These chargeable for the #Ryanair hijacking should be sanctioned.
Journalist Roman Protasevich should be launched instantly.
EUCO will focus on tomorrow motion to take.
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) May 23, 2021
We strongly condemn the Lukashenka regime’s brazen and surprising act to divert a industrial flight and arrest a journalist. We demand a world investigation and are coordinating with our companions on subsequent steps. The USA stands with the folks of Belarus.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) May 23, 2021
Carefully monitoring forcible landing in #Belarus of flight to Vilnius & reported detention of opposition determine Roman Protasevich. It is a severe & harmful incident which requires worldwide investigation. Belarus should guarantee secure return of crew & all passengers.
— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) May 23, 2021
Proud to face with my European counterparts in unequivocally condemning the Lukashenka regime’s reckless use of a fighter plane to intercept a civilian Ryanair flight and arrest journalist Raman Pratasevich.
— Senate International Relations Committee (@SFRCdems) May 23, 2021
Lukashenka and his regime at the moment confirmed once more its contempt for worldwide neighborhood and its residents. Faking a bomb risk and sending MiG-29s to pressure @RyanAir to Minsk with the intention to arrest a @Nexta journalist on politically motivated costs is harmful and abhorrent.
— Julie Fisher (@USAmbBelarus) May 23, 2021
We demand the Lukashenka regime launch Raman Pratasevich and all these unjustly detained in Belarus. In the present day’s surprising act endangered lives and served as an affront to industrial aviation security.https://t.co/TMogvmTorh
— Ned Worth (@StateDeptSpox) May 23, 2021
Nonetheless, some of the social media response has been a bit totally different. Whereas social media posts have normally strongly condemned the diversion of Flight FR4978 and the arrests of Protasevich and Sapega, some reporters and human rights activists are saying the outrage from the European Unions and the US over the diversion of Flight FR4978 is hypocritical.
If the experiences are correct, Lukashenko’s authorities forcing this aircraft to land in an effort to arrest a dissident is a horrible crime. Attention-grabbing to distinction this with the Obama admin. forcing Evo Morales’s aircraft to land in 2013 in an effort to arrest a US dissident, @Snowden.
— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) May 23, 2021
Why does the West faux to be outraged when a nation imitates its gangsterism just like the air piracy Belarus engaged in? Belarus did not neglect when the U.S. forced the aircraft of a head of state, Evo Morales, to land with the intention to arrest Edward Snowden & bought away with it.
— Ajamu Baraka (@ajamubaraka) May 24, 2021
As of the time of this writing, it’s unknown what the standing of Protasevich and Sapega are.