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UN Aviation Agency Delays Report On Belarus's Diversion Of Ryanair Flight

Many countries regard Belarus's forced diversion of a Ryanair flight to Minsk in May as a "state hijacking."
Many countries regard Belarus's forced diversion of a Ryanair flight to Minsk in May as a "state hijacking."

The UN’s civil aviation agency has again delayed the results of a fact-finding mission into Belarus's’ diversion of a Ryanair flight in order to arrest a dissident journalist.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) said on November 9 that an investigative report on the incident will not be released until its next session in January next year.

The delay is “due mainly to the volume of data submitted and additional State certifications still be required,” it said.

The Montreal-based agency had been scheduled to release an interim report at the end of June, and a final report submitted in September for review this month.

Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich and his Russian girlfriend, Sofia Sapega, were detained in May when Belarus scrambled a military jet to escort their Athens-to-Vilnius flight to land in Minsk because of a bomb threat that proved to be false.

Belarusian Journalist Seized After Ryanair Jet 'Forcibly' Diverted To Minsk
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Many countries called Belarus's action a "state hijacking."

Britain and the European Union responded by telling airlines to avoid Belarusian airspace and banning the country's flagship carrier Belavia.

Pratasevich and Sapega are currently under house arrest.

Pratasevich faces charges of being behind protests that followed a disputed presidential election in August 2020, an offense punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

He was a key administrator of the Telegram channel Nexta-Live, which has been covering mass protests denouncing the official results of the election, which handed strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka a sixth presidential term.

The charges against Sapega are less clear.

Lukashenka has cracked down hard on the pro-democracy movement and civil society.

Thousands of people have been arrested, civil society groups shuttered, and media targeted as part of the sweeping clampdown, which has pushed most of the top opposition figures out of the country.

The opposition and the West say the presidential vote was rigged.

The European Union, the United States, and other countries have refused to recognize Lukashenka and slapped a series of sanctions on his regime.

With reporting by AFP
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