Plane diversion and arrest of journalist is a ‘shocking act’ from ‘Europe’s last dictator’

The brazen capture and arrest of an opposition journalist by Belurusian forces under direction of dictator Alexander Lukashenko is an “absolutely shocking” act, according to former Pentagon adviser Jason Israel. A Ryanair flight from Athens to Lithuania was intercepted and forced to land in Minsk under the pre-tense of a potential bomb scare, but once landed Belarusian forces arrested journalist Roman Protasevich who was last year placed on the nation’s terrorist list. Mr Protasevich had been critical of Belarus’ dictator and was pivotal in filming and spreading footage of anti-government protests during last year’s election. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called the arrest and forced landing of the airplane a “shocking act”. The Biden administration is now “coordinating with our partners” on the next steps to secure the 26-year-old journalist’s freedom, according to Mr Blinken. Mr Israel told Sky News this was an “absolutely shocking act” from the man many call “Europe’s last dictator”. “Right now, Roman Protasevich does face the death penalty for being on the terrorist list within Belarus simply for trying to raise awareness of a dictator’s act,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’re going to hear bad news about this case.”

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