EU calls for probe after plane diverted to arrest journalist

Raman Protasevich

FILE – In this Sunday, March 26, 2017 file photo, Belarus police detain journalist Raman Pratasevich, center, in Minsk, Belarus. Raman Pratasevich, a founder of a messaging app channel that has been a key information conduit for opponents of Belarus’ authoritarian president, has been arrested after an airliner in which he was riding was diverted to Belarus because of a bomb threat. The presidential press service said President Alexander Lukashenko personally ordered that a MiG-29 fighter jet accompany the Ryanair plane — traveling from Athens, Greece, to Vilnius, Lithuania — to the Minsk airport. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits, File)

BRUSSELS (AP) – Western leaders decried the diversion of a plane to Belarus in order to arrest an opposition journalist as an act of piracy and terrorism.

The European Union and others on Monday demanded an investigation into the dramatic forced landing of the Ryanair jet.

The airline said Belarusian flight controllers told the crew there was a bomb threat against the plane as it was crossing through the country’s airspace and ordered it to land in the capital of Minsk.

A Belarusian fighter jet was scrambled to escort the plane. Raman Pratasevich was on board.

He ran a popular messaging app that played a key role in helping organize massive protests against Belarus’ authoritarian president. Pratasevich was led off the plane after landing.

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