Belarus forcefully diverts flight carrying journalist

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RESTRICTIONS: Broadcast: NO USE JAPAN, NO USE TAIWAN Digital: NO USE JAPAN, NO USE TAIWAN
A Ryanair plane headed from Greece to Lithuania was diverted to Belarus on Sunday, where a dissident journalist who had been aboard was then seized, according to The New York Times.

The passenger plane was escorted to land in Belarusian capital Minsk by a MiG-29 fighter jet.

The New York Times reports a statement from Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, who won an election widely regarded as rigged last year, says he personally gave the order for the diversion due a bomb threat on the plane.

However, no bombs were found, and Roman Protasevich, former editor of pro-opposition media group Nexta, was detained before the plane was allowed to resume its flight, according to the BBC.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. Diverted flight path of Boeing 747-800 flight FR4978
2. Belarus MiG-29 fighter jet escorts plane to Minsk
3. Sniffer dog checks for bombs in luggage
4. Protasevich taken off plane
5. Protasevich followed in Athens airport
6. Flight paths avoiding Belarus

VOICEOVER (in English):
"A Ryanair plane headed from Greece to Lithuania was diverted to Belarus on Sunday, where a dissident journalist who had been aboard was then seized, according to The New York Times."

"The passenger plane was escorted to land in Belarusian capital Minsk by a MiG-29 fighter jet."

"The New York Times reports a statement from Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, who won an election widely regarded as rigged last year, says he personally gave the order for the diversion due a bomb threat on the plane."

"However, no bombs were found, and Roman Protasevich, former editor of pro-opposition media group Nexta, was detained before the plane was allowed to resume its flight, according to the BBC."

"Protasevich 'just turned to people and said he was facing the death penalty,' one passenger told the AFP news agency when the plane eventually landed at its final destination, Vilnius Airport, in Lithuania."

"In the aftermath of the incident, neighbouring Latvia and Lithuania have both said Belarusian airspace should now be deemed unsafe, with Latvia's Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics adding it should be closed to all international flights, according to the BBC."


SOURCES: Reuters, BBC, New York Times, The Guardian, AFP
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-57219860
https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL2N2NA0L0?edition-redirect=ca
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/23/world/europe/ryanair-belarus.html
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/may/23/belarus-diverts-ryanair-plane-to-arrest-blogger-says-opposition
https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/belarus-diverts-flight-with-opposition-activist-aboard/news-story/8c5af04f54258fc9ed602d72d1a5106d