Belarus Government “Hijacks” Passenger Plane

Read Transcript EXPAND

GABRIELIUS LANDSBERGIS, LITHUANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, we call it a state-sponsored act of terrorism, which was not directed at any country or any entity. We say that it’s an international incident, because there were at least 12 European countries represented and six more countries from non-European Union and U.S. as well. Obviously, it was — the reason was to take one person prisoner. But that meant that, for more than six hours, 123 people and four children were kept hostage in the airport of Minsk.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA: And this really is an unprecedented act. And let me ask a bit about the reporter, Roman Protasevich, himself. He fled Belarus in 2019, has been living in Lithuania as a political exile. What guarantees or what protections does he have in your country as a political exile?

LANDSBERGIS: Well, we haven’t had him on our radar, so to say, in Lithuania, government, because it appears that he’d never applied for a shelter, for political shelter in Lithuania. He had a working visa. And, obviously, Belarusian and maybe Russian intelligence officers had — following him for quite a while. And, obviously, all of this was a an organized operation.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, it is chilling that we had Telegram messages that he had sent back to his colleagues prior to boarding that flight in Athens, where he had spotted what he believed to be KGB agents following him as well. And, as we know, that apparently was the case.. We have unconfirmed reporting that his mother is telling journalists that she has information that he is critically ill and in a hospital in Minsk. And, of course, we are working to confirm this information. My question to you is, if something drastic happens to him, what should your response be and the collective response from the E.U.?

LANDSBERGIS: Well, obviously, it is possible that this information might be true, because we have seen that in the past as well. It would be a horrendous act of state-sponsored murder of an opposition member, of a journalist that reported about events in Belarus and actually took a stand against the regime. E.U. leaders are meeting today and tomorrow to discuss what possible steps could be taken by E.U. And I think that sanctions should be definitely discussed. And I think that they should be implemented. And I’m talking about a fourth package.

About This Episode EXPAND

Over the weekend, many Gazans got their first real look at the devastation brought by the 11 days of bombardments. And now begins the daunting, familiar task of rebuilding.