Western powers accuse Belarus of hijacking plane, Minsk says actions fully comply with international rules

Western countries have condemned Belarus for diverting a plane flying over its territory to arrest a Belarusian opposition journalist, the BBC reports.

EU leaders are due to discuss their response to what the union’s executive called a “hijacking” and the US state department said was “a shocking act”.

Belarus scrambled a fighter jet to force the plane – bound for Lithuania – to land, claiming a bomb threat.

Police came and took Roman Protasevich away when passengers disembarked.

The 26-year-old was aboard the Ryanair plane, which was flying from the Greek capital, Athens. The aircraft was due to land in Vilnius, but was still in Belarusian airspace when it was told to divert it to their own capital, Minsk.

Press Secretary of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Anatoly Glaz said “there is no doubt that the actions of the authorities fully complied with the established international rules,” BelTa reports.

“Belarus has always abided by them. This is recognized by the international aviation regulators. Moreover, we stand ready to guarantee full transparency and, if necessary, to receive experts and show all the materials in order to exclude any insinuations,” the official representative of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

The hastiness of the belligerent rhetoric from a number of countries and European structures is astonishing, he said.

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