Friday, May 20

Plane hijacked to arrest journalist: Belarusian officials charged in New York

On May 23, 2021, a Raynair flight was diverted to Minsk to capture Roman Protassevich, a journalist opposing the Belarusian regime of Alexander Lukashenko. The American justice charged, Thursday, January 20, the Belarusian officials.

The event had scandalized the European Union which had implemented economic sanctions and had demanded that American sanctions be taken.

A few months later, it’s done: according to a press release from the Manhattan federal prosecutor, they are charged with “conspiracy to perpetrate an act of piracy in order to divert Ryanair flight 4978” which linked Athens to Vilnius (Lithuania) , to Minsk airport (Belarus), “in response to an alleged bomb threat on board the plane”.

On board Ryanair flight 4978 were four US nationals and more than a hundred other passengers.

international relations under strain

To manage to arrest the young 26-year-old journalist and his companion, the Belarusian air traffic control had pretexted the presence of a bomb on board. Thus, the device had been forced to land in Minsk.

In their statement, federal justice and the FBI accused the four Belarusian officials of having developed this false bomb alert project. “The FBI and its foreign partners will continue to hold accountable those whose actions directly threaten the lives of our nationals and who jeopardize the stability of our national security,” said Deputy Director Michael Driscoll.

A revival of the Cold War?

These American and European legal sanctions come in the midst of renewed tensions between the United States and Russia, an ally of Belarus, around the Ukrainian file.

In this case, the United States believes that Russia is playing with fire by taking the risk of reviving the ghosts of the Cold War.

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