06:53 GMT23 June 2021
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    MINSK (Sputnik) – Roman Protasevich, an activist suspected of involvement in terrorist activities by Belarusian authorities and whose "Nexta" Telegram channel was designated as an extremist outlet in the country, has been detained in Minsk.

    The Belarusian Interior Ministry has confirmed on Telegram that Raman Pratasevich – the founder of the messaging app's "Nexta" channel – has been detained at Minsk Airport.

    The airport's press service said that the Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius on which Pratasevich was travelling was ordered to make an emergency landing in the Belorussian capital due to a bomb threat. A bomb team was reportedly sent to the airplane after it landed but no explosives were found. 

    In the wake of the landing, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry on Sunday summoned the Belarusian charge d'affaires and demanded the "immediate release of all the passengers and the crew being held at Minsk Airport."

    The German Foreign Ministry, in turn, demanded that the Belarusian authorities explain why Protasevich has been detained.

    Sputnik has just been told by Minsk Airport that the plane is preparing for takeoff. It is scheduled for 19:00 Moscow time, a spokesperson for Ryanair said. 

    In a separate development, President of the European Council Charles Michel has called for an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) probe into an emergency landing of a Ryanair passenger plane in Minsk. 

    ​Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki condemned the detention of Belarusian activist Roman Protasevich after a Ryanair flight was forced to make an emergency landing in Minsk, and asked European Council President Charles Michel to include the issue of immediate sanctions on Belarus in tomorrow's Council meeting agenda.

    ​Berlin has demanded immediate explanations from Belarus on the emergency landing of a passenger plane in Minsk airport, Miguel Berger, the secretary of state at the Federal Foreign Office, said.

    President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen slammed Minsk for landing an Athens-Vilnius plane and urged the Belarusian authorities to immediately ensure that all passengers could safely continue their travel to the destination point.

    In 2013, the plane of Bolivia's then-president Evo Morales was directed by Austria to make an emergency landing at the behest of the United States, during the hunt for National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. The former NSA contractor was never on board, though.

    Tags:
    Vilnius, Minsk, Ryanair, blogger, Belarus
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