Belarusian officials behind ‘unlawful’ hoax that grounded Ryanair flight, UN agency says

The UN aviation agency on Tuesday blamed senior Belarusian officials for the first time for a scam last year that grounded a Ryanair flight and led to the arrest of a dissident reporter.

The plane was en route from Athens to Vilnius in May 2021 when Belarusian air traffic controllers ordered it to land in Minsk, citing a bomb threat.

The Belarusian journalist Roman Protasevich was arrested on site together with his girlfriend at the time.

The International Civil Aviation Organization, which previously said it did not know who was behind the scam, condemned Minsk for “an unlawful interference” in violation of aviation rules.

“The ICAO Council has recognized that the bomb threat made against (the flight) … was intentionally false and endangered its safety and that, moreover, the threat was communicated to the flight crew at the direction of senior Belarusian government officials,” the statement said, citing to new information.

Russia’s representative, he added, strongly disagreed with the conclusion.

Western nations have imposed sanctions on Minsk for supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Belarusian Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ICAO statement.

Minsk previously said it acted legally and in accordance with all international norms, accusing the West of using the episode to try to undermine President Alexander Lukashenko.

Protasevich, a former editor of a prominent opposition news agency, gave up his political activities and was released from prison and placed under house arrest.

The opposition in Belarus believes his revocation was forced. Belarusian officials behind ‘unlawful’ hoax that grounded Ryanair flight, UN agency says

Fry Electronics Team

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