Lithuania’s Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte arrived at Vilnius airport on May 23, after she’d demanded a Ryanair plane forced to divert to Minsk “be allowed to fly to Vilnius immediately”.
Flight FR4978 was travelling from Athens to Vilnius when it was diverted by Belarusian authorities to Minsk airport, flight data showed. An opposition journalist on board the flight, Roman Protasevich, was then arrested before the flight departed for Vilnius several hours later.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, condemned the actions of the Belarusian authorities as “outrageous and illegal” and called for Protasevich’s immediate release.
Simonyte called the diversion an “act of state terrorism directed against the security of citizens of the EU and other countries.”
Ryanair said its crew was alerted by air traffic control in Belarus of a “potential security threat on board” and was “instructed to divert the nearest airport, Minsk.”
According to opposition figures in Belarus, Protasevich could face the death penalty. Credit: @mediazona_by via Storyful