ICAO: the bomb threat on the Ryanair plane with Protasevich was false, the message was transmitted at the direction of the Belarusian authorities

The threat of a bomb explosion on a Ryanair plane (Athens-Vilnius), on board of which was the former editor-in-chief of the Next Telegram channel Roman Protasevich with his girlfriend Sofya Sapega, was false. This conclusion was reached by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) by publishing a report supplemented with new information and materials.

The ICAO Council concluded that information about the bomb on board the emergency landing Ryanair aircraft was passed on to the crew at the behest of the Belarusian authorities. ICAO will communicate the findings of the report to all member states of the organization, as well as report violations of the Chicago Convention by Belarus at the upcoming session (September 27 - October 7).

On May 23, 2021, a Ryanair plane flying on the Athens-Vilnius route landed at Minsk Airport after receiving a message about mining. On behalf of Alexander Lukashenko, a fighter jet was raised into the sky to escort a passenger plane. The command to land the plane was also personally given by Lukashenka. Roman Protasevich, the founder of the opposition Telegram channel Next, was on board the plane with his girlfriend. They were both detained. In Belarus, Protasevich and another Nexta creator, Stepan Putilo, are listed as terrorists.

After that, Protasevich and Sapieha were arrested. In June, both were transferred from the KGB pre-trial detention center to house arrest. The Investigative Committee of Belarus reported that they made a deal with the investigation and gave confessions. On August 9, Lukashenka, commenting on the Protasevich case, said that "he is now practically free." On May 6, a court in Belarus sentenced Sapega to 6 years in prison. The girl was charged under seven criminal articles. In particular, she was found guilty of “illegal collection and dissemination of information about private life constituting the personal and family secret of another person, without his consent, which caused harm to the rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of the victim.”

The incident with the liner became one of the main topics of the EU summit in Brussels on May 24. As a result, sanctions were agreed, which, among other things, ban the use of EU airspace and airports by Belarusian airlines. The EU Council also urged European airlines to avoid flights over the territory of Belarus. The head of Ryanair noted that the pilot was put under "significant pressure" to land in Minsk. He called the landing and the subsequent detention of two passengers "a deliberate violation of all international aviation regulations."

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