World Media

UK airlines told to avoid Belarusian airspace after journalist arrest

IATA says it condemns any interference inconsistent with international law

Singapore Airlines was also rerouting flights "that are bound for Europe to avoid the Belarusian airspace" and would continue to "closely monitor the situation", a spokesperson said.

Always on alert, Mr Protasevich texted a friend to describe the incident. There is no doubt that he was tortured.

In a tweet, Johnson said Belarus's actions "will have consequences".

Belarus scrambled a fighter jet to force the plane - which was travelling from Athens in Greece to Vilnius, Lithuania - to land in the Belarusian capital after saying there had been a bomb threat.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary said it was a "state-sponsored hijacking" and claimed agents from Russia's KGB were also on board.

The EU, along with the United States, Britain and Canada had already imposed asset freezes and travel bans on nearly 90 Belarusian officials, including President Alexander Lukashenko, following an August election that opponents and the West say was a sham.

In the Commons, he told MPs: "The Belarusian authorities claim this was in relation to an alleged bomb threat". The UN agency ICAO has said the incident may have violated the foundational treaty governing global civil aviation, the 1944 Chicago Convention. As a result of the Ryanair incident, Vilnius on Monday announced it will ban flights to or from Lithuanian airports from crossing through Belarusian airspace.

The photographer and journalist, already a veteran of Belarus's embattled independent media, had been on assignment accompanying Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the exiled opposition leader, to the Delphi Economic Forum earlier this month.

Russian Federation came forward on Monday to back the cornered Belarus.

The 27 national leaders of the European Union on Monday demanded the immediate release of Protasevich and Sapega, as well as an investigation by the International Civil Aviation Organization into the incident.

"If we let this go, tomorrow Alexander Lukashenko will go further and do something even more arrogant, more cruel", Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a statement.

Mass demonstrations calling for Lukashenko's ouster followed.

Politicians in the West have called for tougher measures that might isolate the country from the global financial system or bar its exports.

Protasevich is seen in this April 2017 photo as he appears for a court hearing in Minsk on accusations of participating in an unsanctioned protest.

Moscow has also denied suggestions by Western politicians that it may have assisted its ally Belarus in the operation.

And Mr Raab called for the release of Mr Protasevich from the "spurious charges" he faces. As a candidate, Biden denounced the "systemic repression" under Lukashenko's regime and called out electoral fraud in the last Belarus election.

The Ryanair incident has sparked a strong backlash among the global community, with Western countries calling for an worldwide probe into the emergency landing and considering the closure of the Belarusian airspace, along with introducing new sanctions against Minsk.

"I can state that I don't have any health issues, including diseases of the heart or any other organs".

"Police officers treat me properly and according to the law", he says.