Joe Biden Calls Belarus Forced Plane Landing “Outrageous”, Demands Release Of Journalist

The arrest of the journalist is a “shameful assaults on both political dissent and the freedom of the press,” the US President said.

Monday, US President Joe Biden hit out at Belarus for the “outrageous” act of forcing a flight from Greece to Lithuania to land in Minsk where a dissident journalist onboard was arrested.

“This outrageous incident and the video Mr. Pratasevich appears to have made under duress are shameful assaults on both political dissent and the freedom of the press,” the US President said using an alternative spelling of the activist’s name, after Belarusian TV broadcast video of Roman Protasevich “confessing” to charges of organizing mass unrest.

“I welcome the news that the European Union has called for targeted economic sanctions and other measures, and have asked my team to develop appropriate options to hold accountable those responsible,” Biden said in his statement.

A commercial flight carrying a dissident journalist was intercepted by a MiG-29 fighter jet under orders from the authoritarian president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko. It was forced to divert to Minsk, the Belarus capital from its scheduled arrival at Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, ostensibly over a “potential security threat on board,”

Authorities boarded the plane and arrested Raman Pratasevich, the former editor-in-chief of one the most popular Telegram news channels in Belarus. Pratasevich wasn’t on the plane when it took off again, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said in a recorded statement.

While agreeing on Monday to cut air links with Belarus, EU leaders bloc said it would adopt further “targeted economic sanctions” against Belarusian authorities to add to the 88 regime figures and seven companies already on a blacklist over a crackdown on opposition.

“The United States joins countries around the world in calling for his release, as well as for the release of the hundreds of political prisoners who are being unjustly detained by the Lukashenka regime,” Biden said.


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