Britain condemns Belarus after Ryanair flight carrying opposition activist diverted


Britain has strongly condemned the arrest of a Belarus opposition activist after the Ryanair flight he was travelling on was diverted from its route to land in the country.

Belarus state media said the aircraft – which was travelling from Athens to the Lithuanian capital Vilnius – was switched to Minsk following a bomb threat.

However, opposition groups said it was an operation by Belarus special services to “hijack” the flight so they could arrest activist and blogger Roman Protasevich.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he was “alarmed” by the actions of the Belarus government of President Alexander Lukashenko, who is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We are co-ordinating with our allies. This outlandish action by Lukashenko will have serious implications,” he tweeted.

Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said the situation was “extremely worrying”.

“We are in contact with the airline and EU colleagues,” he said.

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance was closely monitoring the “forcible landing” of the flight and the subsequent arrest of Mr Protasevich.

“This is a serious and dangerous incident which requires international investigation.