Ryanair bomb alert: Flight forced into emergency landing – fighter jet sent to intercept

Ryanair bomb alert: Flight forced into emergency landing – fighter jet sent to intercept

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A RYANAIR flight had to make a dramatic emergency landing after a “bomb alert” saw fighter jets quickly scramble towards the aircraft.

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Ryanair bomb alert: The flight had to make an emergency landing (Image: GETTY)

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When the plane landed in Belarus, journalist Roman Pratasevich, who was travelling on the flight from Athens to Vilnius, was arrested.

However it has been reported the bomb threat may have been attempt to force the plane to land so Mr Protasevich could be.

The 26-year-old journalist is reported to be an enemy of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko.

The Defence Ministry in Belarus has confirmed Mr Protasevich, who had been living in exile, had been arrested.

Human rights centre Vesna also said: ”Roman Protasevich was detained. He was on the Ryanair flight Athens-Vilnius.”

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who is leader of the opposition in Belarus whom was widely seen as having won last year’s presidential election before being forced into exile, lashed out.

She said: “It is absolutely obvious that this is an operation by the special services to hijack an aircraft in order to detain the activist and blogger Roman Protasevich.

“The regime endangered the safety of passengers on board and all civil aviation for the sake of reprisals against a man who was the editor of the largest Belarusian independent Telegram channels.”

The opposition leader also warned: “From now on, not a single person flying over Belarus can be sure of their safety.

“After all, the regime is abusing the rules of air traffic in order to capture those who disagree.”

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda raged on Twitter: “Unprecedented event! A civilian passenger plane flying to Vilnius was forcibly landed in #Minsk.

“Belarusian political activist & founder of @NEXTA_EN was on the plane. He is arrested.

“Belarus regime is behind the abhorrent action. I demand to free Roman Protasevič urgently!”

Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonyte also tweeted: “Passengers and crew of Ryanair flight en route from Athens to Vilnius have been put in danger – when forcibly landed in Minsk.

“We demand that the plane and passengers be allowed to fly to Vilnius immediately!”

Conservative Party MP Tom Tugendhat demanded immediate action from the UK, EU and NATO.

He tweeted: “The UK, EU and NATO have to respond to the forcing of an aircraft to the ground by Belarus.

“We need an immediate flight ban to the state and a travel ban for regime-connected individuals.”

Journalist Mr Protasevich had said a middle-aged Russian-speaking man had tried to film the main page of his passport at Athens airport before turning away and leaving.

Belarusian opposition Telegram channel Nexta was linked closely to reporting a surge in protest last year that almost toppled Mr Lukashenko, before Russian President Vladimir Putin threw his support behind him.

NEXTA reported: “Protasevich was on board a flight heading from Athens to Vilnius. He faces the death penalty in Belarus.

“The Lukashists [derogatory term for supporters of embattled President Lukashenko] seized the plane in order to arrest Protasevich.

The authorities in Belarus said its bomb disposal unit examined the Ryanair plan but it was later reported no explosives were found.

This is a breaking story. More to follow…