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Belarus Diverts Plane to Arrest Journalist

Rejected submission by takyon at 2021-05-23 18:31:44
Digital Liberty

Belarus diverts Ryanair flight to arrest journalist, says opposition []

A Ryanair plane flying from Greece to Lithuania has been diverted to Belarus, with the country's opposition figures saying it was done so a dissident journalist on board could be arrested.

The Nexta media network said its ex-editor Roman Protasevich was detained.

Belarus state media said the plane was diverted to Minsk because of a bomb scare but no explosives were found.

European nations have reacted with outrage, accusing Belarus of "state terrorism" and demanding punishment.

Also at CNN [], The Guardian [], and NYT []:

The stunning gambit by Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, a brutal and erratic leader who has clung to power despite huge protests against his government last year, was condemned by European officials, who called it a "state hijacking." But it also underscored that with the support of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, Mr. Lukashenko is prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to repress dissent.

[...] Upon the plane's arrival in Minsk, Mr. Protasevich was arrested, the country's interior ministry said in a statement that was later deleted from its official Telegram channel. No bomb was found on board, the country's law enforcement authorities said. The Investigative Committee, Belarus's top investigative agency, opened a criminal case into a false bomb threat.

Mr. Protasevich is a co-founder and a former editor of the NEXTA [] Telegram channel, one of the most popular opposition outlets in Belarus. Most independent media organizations in the country were forced to shut down after large-scale protests erupted over a disputed presidential election in 2020. The social network Telegram was left as one of the only means of uncensored communication.

Official Telegram [] channel vs. opposition Telegram channel.

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