Director Ryanair: Russian secret agents on board

Ryanair top man Michael OLeary said that there were some Russian secret service personnel on board the flight that had to make a forced stopover in Belarus on Sunday. โ€œIt seems that the intention of the authorities was to remove a journalist and his travel companion. We believe that some Russian secret agents have also got off at the airport,โ€ said OLeary on Irish radio. He further called the action a โ€œstate-backed hijacking.โ€

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney confirms the suspicion of the Ryanair top man. โ€œWe think five or six people have gotten off, but only one of them has been arrested, which would indicate that the others were secret agents.โ€

On Sunday, a Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania was intercepted in the airspace of Belarus and forced to land in the capital Minsk. On board was Belarusian opposition member Roman Protasevich, a journalist living in exile. He was arrested.

Great Britain has demanded the immediate release of Protasevich. He was arrested on Sunday on โ€œbasis of a ruseโ€, says British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab.

โ€œ The United Kingdom condemns the actions of the Belarusian authorities on Sunday, which arrested journalist Roman Protasevich on the basis of a ruse, after forcing his Ryanair flight to land in Minsk. President Aleksandr Lukashenko must be held accountable for his excessive actions,โ€ says Raab.

He added that London is working with allies to increase sanctions against Belarus and President Lukashenko. Ryanairs flight with Protasevich on board went from Greece to Lithuania.