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Ryanair Says Plane Diverted To Berlin Over 'Potential Threat'; None Found


The incident comes after Belarus dispatched a fighter jet earlier this month to intercept this Ryanair jet, which was traveling from Greece to Lithuania, forcing it to land in Minsk. It later completed its journey and landed in Vilnius (above).

A Ryanair flight from Dublin to Krakow was diverted to Berlin after the crew were warned of a "potential security threat" on the plane, the Ireland-based budget airline says.

In a May 31 statement, Ryanair said German air traffic control warned the crew of the potential threat on May 30, prompting the captain to follow procedures and land in Berlin, the nearest airport, where passengers were taken off the plane.

"Extensive security checks of passengers and all baggage" were performed by German police, who determined there was no danger, the airline said.

The 160 passengers were eventually flown to Krakow on a spare plane after a seven-hour delay.

German tabloids Bild and BZ said that there had been a bomb threat, but neither the police nor Ryanair confirmed those reports.

The incident comes after Belarus dispatched a fighter jet earlier this month to intercept a Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania and forced it to land in Minsk, because the Belarusian authorities claimed they had received information there was a bomb aboard the plane.

Following the landing, opposition journalist Raman Pratasevich and his girlfriend, Sofia Sapega, a Russian national, were taken off the aircraft and detained.

No bomb was found on board. Belarusian authorities claimed that they had received an e-mail warning them about the existence of explosives on the flight.

The move sparked international outrage and demands for Pratasevich's release. The European Union has since banned flights from Belarus.

After meeting some of the passengers of the May 23 Ryanair flight in Lithuania, EU commissioner Thierry Breton on May 31 said that Europe "has been under attack with this act of state piracy.”

“We will not leave this unpunished," Breton told AFP, adding that the EU was working on additional economic sanctions on Belarus.

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The United States has imposed sanctions against Belarusian state-owned enterprises over the air incident, while most European countries have urged their aircraft to avoid Belarus airspace and banned Belarus carriers from their skies.

Also on May 31, exiled Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya discussed possible EU economic sanctions with Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid during a visit to Tallinn.

The regime of authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka “is now a threat to regional and European security,” Tsikhanouskaya told a joint press conference.

Kaljulaid promised that during her presidency at the UN Security Council, Estonia would do everything possible to "raise the issue of Belarus…as much as possible."

During their press conference, Tsikhanouskaya and Kaljulaid were dressed in white and a bouquet of white and red flowers was on display -- the colors of the flag used by the Belarusian opposition.

With reporting by AP, dpa, and AFP
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    RFE/RL's Belarus Service

    RFE/RL's Belarus Service is one of the leading providers of news and analysis to Belarusian audiences in their own language. It is a bulwark against pervasive Russian propaganda and defies the government’s virtual monopoly on domestic broadcast media.