US Charges 4 Belarusian Officials With Piracy for Diverting Ryanair Flight - Justice Dept.

© REUTERS / ANDRIUS SYTASA Ryanair aircraft, which was carrying Belarusian opposition blogger and activist Roman Protasevich and was diverted to Belarus, lands at Vilnius Airport in Vilnius, Lithuania May 23, 2021. REUTERS/Andrius Sytas
A Ryanair aircraft, which was carrying Belarusian opposition blogger and activist Roman Protasevich and was diverted to Belarus, lands at Vilnius Airport in Vilnius, Lithuania May 23, 2021. REUTERS/Andrius Sytas - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.01.2022
Subscribe
US
India
Global
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States has charged four Belarusian government officials with aircraft piracy for diverting a Ryanair flight on May 23, 2021, with a pro-opposition journalist Roman Protasevich onboard, the US Justice Department said in a press release.
"[The US authorities] announced the filing of a one-count indictment charging LEONID MIKALAEVICH CHURO, the Director General of Belaeronavigatsia Republican Unitary Air Navigation Services Enterprise; OLEG KAZYUCHITS, the Deputy Director General of Belaeronavigatsia; and two officers of the Belarusian state security services, ANDREY ANATOLIEVICH LNU and FNU LNU, with conspiracy to commit aircraft piracy for engineering the diversion of Ryanair Flight 4978," the release said on Thursday.
The Justice Department said in the release that all the defendants are currently based in Belarus and remain at large.
It is alleged that Churo communicated the bomb threat to the staff at the Minsk air traffic control center and directed the center to instruct the pilots on the flight to land, according to the release.
Kazyuchits was allegedly directing Belarusian air traffic authorities to falsify incident reports about the flight diversion to conceal the fabrication of the bomb threat and to omit the role of Belarusian security services in directing the diversion, the release said.
All four defendants are charged with conspiring to commit aircraft piracy and face a maximum penalty of life in prison, and a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison, the release said.
On Wednesday, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) said in a report of its fact-finding investigation that the information about the bomb threat on board the Ryanair plane was false, but did not attribute the communications to any state.
A Ryanair aircraft, which was carrying Belarusian opposition blogger and activist Roman Protasevich and diverted to Belarus, where authorities detained him, lands at Vilnius Airport in Vilnius, Lithuania May 23, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.12.2021
Ryanair Incident Did Not Involve Threat of Explosion, Polish Prosecutors Say
Two passengers aboard the aircraft, Roman Protasevich, co-founder of the Nexta Telegram channel (labeled as extremist in Belarus), and his girlfriend, Sofia Sapega, were detained during the stopover in Minsk. The twi were suspected of publishing private data of Belarusian security service officers,
The US claims there were at least four US citizens among more than 100 passengers on the plane that day.
The Belarusian authorities deny any role of its national security services in the incident. In December, Belarusian Transport Ministry head Artem Sikorsky said Western media articles citing a Belarusian airport dispatcher who purportedly was on duty dung the Ryanair emergency landing in Minsk was deliberately false.
Newsfeed
0
To participate in the discussion
log in or register
loader
Chats
Заголовок открываемого материала