Lithuania has called on Belarus to release an opposition blogger detained after his flight from Athens to Vilnius was forced to land in Minsk on Sunday (May 23).
Lithuanian presidential advisor Asta Skaisgiryte told media the plane had been forced to land by military aircraft.
Law enforcers detained activist Roman Protasevich, 26, who had been put on a wanted list after last year’s mass street protests following an election in which Lukashenko claimed a landslide victory.
Skaisgiryte said Lithuania wanted Protasevich and the other passengers on board the Ryanair plane to be released and allowed to travel on to Vilnius.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko personally ordered the warplane to escort the Boeing to Minsk, state news agency BelTA reported. BelTA said there had been reports that there were explosives on board but none were found.
Protasevich is one of the founders of the opposition news service NEXTA, a Telegram channel that has become one of the main sources of news about demonstrations in Belarus. It is hostile to Lukashenko and helps to coordinate protests.