Journalist from diverted 2021 Ryanair flight jailed in Belarus

Poster of opposition activist and journalist Roman Protasevich on display outside of Lithuanian embassy in Brussel
Alexandros Michailidis /

A journalist who was arrested by police after his plane was diverted and forced to land in Belarus has been jailed for eight years.  

Roman Protasevich, 27, of Belarus, was on a Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania in May 2021, when the pilot was told by air traffic control that there was a bomb threat against the flight. 

The Ryanair flight made an emergency landing in Minsk where Pratasevich, who lived in exile at the time, was taken by police. 

The plane was checked for explosives but none were found, and the flight then continued to Lithuania, without Pratasevich. 

The incident caused international outrage, with many questioning the authenticity of the bomb scare.  

The Belta state news agency reported that on Wednesday, May 3, 2023, Pratasevich was imprisoned for offences that included organising mass disturbances, inciting acts of terrorism and slandering President Alexander Lukashenko. 

Pratasevich worked as a journalist for news website Nexta which reported on mass protests against the Lukashenko regime after the election in 2020. 

Pratasevich’s partner at the time, Sofia Sapega, was also detained aboard the Ryanair flight and has already been sentenced to six years in prison.  

According to Reuters, as Sapega is a Russian citizen, she is likely to be transferred there to serve her sentence.  

Following his arrest in 2021, Pratasevich appeared on television admitting his involvement in trying to topple President Lukashenk. 

It is widely believed these confessions were made under pressure from the police and government officials. 

Related Posts


Stay updated on aviation and aerospace - subscribe to our newsletter!