European Union leaders met on Monday evening to discuss possible sanctions on Belarus after authorities forced a Ryanair jet to land in Minsk and detained dissident journalist on board.
Several airlines, including in Poland and Lithuania, said they would avoid Belarusian airspace after the incident, as EU leaders agreed to ban Belarusian airlines from the bloc’s airspace and airports.
Countries also called for the release of 26-year-old Roman Protasevich, who was detained when the plane was forced to land in Minsk, the Belarusian capital.
His social media feed from exile has been one of the last remaining independent outlets for news about Belarus since a mass crackdown on dissent last year. Sophia Sapega, a 23-year-old student travelling with him, was also detained.
Belarus says it acted in response to a bomb threat on the flight, which turned out to be a false alarm. It said on Monday its ground controllers had given guidance to the flight but had not ordered it to land. State media said the intervention was ordered personally by President Alexander Lukashenko.
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