Trudeau says Canada mulling more actions against Belarus after journalist's arrest

What was behind a passenger plane's diversion to Belarus

Amid a diplomatic incident over flags at the hockey world championship in Latvia, the governing body of the sport on Tuesday sided with Belarus, which is under global pressure after forcing a passenger jet carrying an opposition journalist to land in Minsk.

The United States and European countries have called it "air piracy" and "state-sponsored hijacking".

At a summit in Brussels on Monday night, the 27 leaders of the European Union countries agreed quickly to drawing up fresh individual and targeted economic sanctions against Belarus.

The move came as Belarusian state television broadcast a 30-second video of Protasevich, who had been living between Lithuania and Poland, confirming that he was in prison in Minsk and "confessing" to charges of organising mass unrest.

Protasevich, 26, is a well-known critic of the Belarusian government and President Alexander Lukashenko. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the video made for "distressing viewing" and Belarus would face consequences.

"My treatment from officers has been maximally correct and according to the law".

Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko sparked worldwide outrage by dispatching a fighter jet Sunday to intercept a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius carrying wanted reporter Roman Protasevich, 26, and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega. A Belarusian MiG-29 fighter jet was scrambled to escort the plane.

On the ground, Belarusian agents took Protasevich away and detained Sepega. The rest of the passengers were then searched and held for hours as Belarusian officials continued the charade of handling a bomb threat. Protasevich and a 23-year-old student travelling with him were arrested, and three other people disembarked the flight in Minsk, suspected by Western countries of being spies involved in the operation.

Belarusian authorities meanwhile have continued to claim they were responding to a real bomb threat and acting to protect the passengers.

The aviation department of the Belarus transport ministry released a transcript of what it says was the conversation between Minsk airport and the Ryanair pilot.

Lithuania bars airport access to carriers flying over Belarus
The plane was suddenly diverted to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, where authorities detained Protasevich. If he is accused and convicted of terrorism, he could face the death penalty.

They demanded Pratasevich's release and urged European carriers to avoid Belarus' airspace. RIGHT: Airport personnel and security forces are seen on the tarmac in front of Protasevich's Ryanair flight. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum denied his group had any knowledge or connection to the matter.

The Minsk government has accused Pratasevich of terrorism and provoking riots after the Nexta channels became one of the main conduits for organizing last year's anti-Lukashenko protests over election fraud. The channel and another NEXTA Live have over 2 million subscribers and during the protests helped coordinate demonstrations and published videos of them and of police violence that helped catalyze the peaceful uprising against Lukashenko.

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 a year ago.

Protsevich's father Dmitry on Monday told Radio Free Europe he feared his son might be tortured in Belarus.

"I just want to say that my son is simply a hero, simply a hero", Natalia Protasevich said, weeping. "I truly hope that the worldwide community will wake up for him".

"I looked directly into his eyes and he was very sad", she said.

Air France, Finnair and Singapore Airlines on Tuesday became the latest carriers to suspend flights over Belarus, following Scandinavian airline SAS, Germany's Lufthansa and Latvia-based regional airline Air Baltic.

In a call with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Tikhanovskaya asked the United States to "isolate the regime and pressure it through sanctions", she said on Twitter.

"There must be an immediate, international, transparent, and credible investigation of this incident", Buttigieg added. The spokesperson for the U.N.'s human rights office, Rupert Colville, said Pratasevich's appearance was likely not voluntary and that he seemed to have bruising to his face, though it was hard to tell from the footage.

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