The Belarus government, led by President Alexander Lukashenko, forced an airplane traveling from Greece to Lithuania to land in its territory. Many European Union nations and opposition leaders are calling it an act of terrorism.
According to the state media of Belarus, the forced landing was done on the orders of the president to arrest a journalist who used to criticize Lukashenko’s authoritarian government. President, in his statement, said he acted lawfully to protect people.
When the flight entered Belarus’s airspace, its intelligence told the crew member about a potential bomb in the plane. A MIG-29 aircraft was sent for helping immediate safe landing. After landing, police detained both Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend.
After detention, the confession video of his girlfriend Sapega circulated over the internet in which she confessed her crime. She said she was an editor of a Telegram messaging app channel that had publicized the personal data of Belarusian law enforcement personnel, a crime in the country.
The Russian foreign ministry said that Sapega, a 23-year-old student who is a citizen of Russia, could face criminal charges under several articles of the criminal code.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the leader of the Belarusian opposition who operates from nearby Lithuania, said on Twitter that Sapega appeared to be under psychological pressure. Frank Viacorka, an adviser to Tsikhanouskaya, said that Sapega’s confession seemed to have been made under duress on Twitter.
“She is guilty of being a friend of Roman. And they forced her to confess to ‘crimes’ she did not commit,” he wrote. Many opposition leaders accused Alexander of turning the country into North Korea of the European continent.
Many European countries are drawing up the conclusion that Russia might have helped Belarus in this operation, but Moscow had denied all the suggestions of European countries.
France and Ireland have described the incident as piracy. On Tuesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called it a “state hijacking.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the video made for “distressing viewing” and Belarus would face the consequences.
The Indian government had also issued an advisory to planes to avoid using Belarus air space in traveling from the US or Europe.
Various European Union leaders directed their officials to drew up sanctions against Belarus and to put a ban on the airlines of Belarus