Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich appears in new video after 'state backed hijacking'

IATA says it condemns any interference inconsistent with international law

EU leaders meeting in Brussels eyed proposals to stop Belarus' state airline flying to the bloc and prevent European carriers from using the country's airspace, after several nations started closing air routes.

Minister Coveney, meanwhile, says the plane was "effectively ordered" to land in Minsk.

On Sunday, the plane flying from Athens to Vilnius had to make an emergency landing in Minsk over a bomb threat, which later turned out to be false.

Leaders from across Europe have condemned Belarus' actions, saying that the country violated global civil aviation agreements and knowingly endangered passengers and crew on board the aircraft.

The photographer and journalist, already a veteran of Belarus's embattled independent media, had been on assignment accompanying Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the exiled opposition leader, to the Delphi Economic Forum earlier this month.

Jakob Wert is an aviation journalist from Germany. Sofia Sapega, a 23-year-old student travelling with him, was also detained.

"We don't resort to these methods, which could be the doing of some suspicious parties that aim to demonize Hamas and foil the state of world sympathy with our Palestinian people and their legitimate resistance", the Hamas spokesman said. As a result of the Ryanair incident, Vilnius on Monday announced it will ban flights to or from Lithuanian airports from crossing through Belarusian airspace.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said "the time of rhetoric and vocal expression is over and we need clear actions to change the pattern" of the Belarusian regime's behaviour. Ukraine said it would suspend air traffic with Belarus starting midnight Wednesday.

A byproduct of these is that they could leave the Belarusian opposition's supporters without a safe way to escape Lukashenko's reign.

Lukashenko, whose security services crushed months of pro-democracy demonstrations past year after an election opponents said was rigged, has so far shrugged off Western sanctions, which mostly consist of blacklists barring various officials from travelling or doing business in the United States and EU.

Russian Federation has said it is still too early to comment on the Ryanair incident, while accusing Western countries of hypocrisy and noting that a Bolivian presidential plane was diverted to Austria in 2013 after reports it was carrying USA intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.

"We asked him what was going on... he said: 'The death penalty awaits me here'".

The president has denied electoral fraud.

Forced into exile in 2019 and designated a terrorist by Belarusian authorities last November, Minsk-born reporter Mr Protasevich had no illusions about the lengths to which Alexander Lukashenko's KGB would go to silence critics.

"I can state that I don't have any health issues, including diseases of the heart or any other organs. Police officers are treating me properly and according to the law", he says. "Also, I now continue to co-operate with the investigation and have confessed to organizing mass protests in Minsk".



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