“State terrorism”: Poland refutes Belarusian allegations of hijacking Ryanair flight

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Polish security officials claim Belarus has committed an act of “state terrorism” by hijacking a flight to Minsk to arrest an exiled journalist.

A Polish investigation into the hijacking of the plane has refuted Belarus’ claim that there was an alleged bomb threat on board.

The Ryanair flight was operating between Greece and Lithuania when it was ordered to land in Minsk in May.

Opposition figure and journalist Roman Protasevich was later removed from the plane and detained alongside his partner. He remains under house arrest in Belarus.

The incident led the European Union and others to impose sanctions on the regime of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

The Polish Internal Security Agency and prosecutors opened an investigation into the hijacking, as there were 125 Polish citizens on the plane. The Ryanair plane was also registered in Poland.

A spokesperson for the security services, Stanislaw Zaryn, said the investigation found no evidence of a bomb threat.

Zaryn added that Belarusian security guards were at the Minsk air traffic tower where they instructed a controller to order the plane to turn around and land.

The spokesperson added that the diversion was aimed at detaining a “political opponent of the regime of Alexander Lukashenko” and could be considered an “act of state terrorism”.

At a press conference on Friday, Polish officials released a recording of an apparent conversation between the Ryanair pilot and Belarusian air traffic controllers.

The pilot can be heard asking where the information on the bomb threat came from, and then told that the source was Belarusian special services.

Belarus maintained the plane was hijacked after receiving a warning that a bomb was on the plane.

But Polish investigators said an email containing the suspected threat was sent around 30 minutes after the controller relayed the initial message to the pilot.

EU leaders had previously called the Belarusian hijacking a “hijacking” and banned Belarusian airlines from flying in EU airspace.

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