Air Piracy: KGB Nabs Dissident Journalist in Brazen Midair Arrest

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Posted: May 23, 2021 11:05 AM
Air Piracy: KGB Nabs Dissident Journalist in Brazen Midair Arrest

Source: AP Photo/Martin Meissner, file

In reports Sunday morning that read like a Tom Clancy novel, it appears the tyrannical government of Belarus successfully nabbed Roman Protasevich, a dissident activist who exposed the violence carried out by Belarusian authorities. And while arresting dissidents is standard operating procedure for dictators, such arrests aren't usually carried out while the target is cruising though the arresting nation's airspace while traveling between two sovereign European Union countries on an Irish airline.

Protasevich became a thorn in the side of Belarus' president when he shared with the world the extent of Lukashenko's brutal crackdown on civilians and journalists and helped protestors organize in the wake of a rigged election:

The corruption and grinding poverty produced by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko and his regime's 26 years in power finally spurred a new reform-minded generation to challenge the dictator at the ballot box. Knowing they were despised, the dictator's gang rigged the election. Outraged by the fraud, reformers filled the streets with genuinely peaceful mass protests and appealed to free nations for help. Attempting to crush an energized opposition, the dictator's riot cops responded brutally, beating and arresting thousands.

According to the editor in chief of Protasevich's outlet, a bomb threat aboard the flight was created as pretext to force the Ryanair flight from Athens bound for Lithuania to land in Belarus, and a military jet was reportedly scrambled to lead the commercial plane to Minsk where no bomb was found and Protasevich was arrested. 

Representative Peter Meijer (R-MI) called for "condemnation and stronger sanctions against Belarus" over the "egregious violation."

Foreign leaders also weighed in, demanding answers from Belarus.