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EU bans Belarus airlines from its airspace after Ryanair “hijacking” to arrest journalist – Yahoo News

The European Union on Friday banned Belarus airlines from flying over EU territory or landing in its airports in response to the Belarus government’s forced landing of a Ryanair plane to arrest journalist Raman Pratasevich.

Driving the news: The restrictions come one day after Pratasevich appeared in a video on Belarus state television declaring his respect for strongman Aleksandr Lukashenko — who he has opposed for years — and claiming to have organized “mass riots” against the regime.

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  • The 26-year-old breaks down in tears at one point in the video.

  • Human rights groups pointed to bruises on the journalist’s hands and face, suggesting that his confession was forced, the Washington Post reports.

The big picture: The diversion of the Ryanair passenger jet carrying Pratasevich last month prompted international outrage after it was revealed that Belarus security services had called in a fake bomb threat to force the plane to land in Minsk to arrest Pratasevich and his girlfriend.

  • The U.S. last week condemned Pratasevich’s arrest and announced it was reimposing sanctions against nine state-owned Belarusian enterprises starting Thursday.

  • The White House also stated it was working with the EU to develop specific sanctions against members of the Lukashenko regime. European leaders have described the incident as a “hijacking.”

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