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Belarus Uses Fake Bomb Threat to Divert Plane and Arrest Journalist Critical of President

HeadlineMay 24, 2021

International leaders are accusing Belarus of “state terrorism” and “hijacking” after it ordered a commercial flight be diverted to Minsk, using a fake bomb threat, so it could arrest a journalist critical of President Alexander Lukashenko. The Ryanair jet had been flying from Athens to Lithuania, where 26-year-old journalist Roman Protasevich has been living. He ran social media for the outlet Nexta, which covered the violent crackdown on anti-government protests in Belarus last year following the highly contested reelection of Lukashenko. Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who also operates in exile from Lithuania, spoke out against the arrest.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya: “Today, Lukashenko personally caused an international scandal, used military aircraft against civilians in Belarus and European countries to reprise a single person. No one else is safe. Anyone can be in Roman Protasevich’s place.”

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