US State Department: Diversion of Ryanair Flight to Belarus

Washington, DC (STL.News) Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken released the following statement:

The United States strongly condemns the forced diversion of a flight between two EU member states and the subsequent removal and arrest of journalist Raman Pratasevich in Minsk.  We demand his immediate release.  This shocking act perpetrated by the Lukashenka regime endangered the lives of more than 120 passengers, including U.S. citizens.  Initial reports suggesting the involvement of the Belarusian security services and the use of Belarusian military aircraft to escort the plane are deeply concerning and require full investigation.

We are closely coordinating our response with our partners, including the EU and Lithuanian and Greek officials.  Given indications the forced landing was based on false pretenses, we support the earliest possible meeting of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization to review these events.

Independent media are an essential pillar supporting the rule of law and a vital component of a democratic society.  The United States once again condemns the Lukashenka regime’s ongoing harassment and arbitrary detention of journalists.  We stand with the Belarusian people in their aspirations for a free, democratic, and prosperous future and support their call for the regime to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms.

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