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G7 calls for 'immediate and unconditional' release of Belarus journalist

WION Web Team
Brussels, BelgiumUpdated: May 27, 2021, 08:58 PM IST

Photograph:(Twitter)

Story highlights

International disapproval of Belarus and its president, Alexander Lukashenko, has increased since the regime diverted a Ryanair jet on Sunday to arrest Protasevich, an opposition journalist, and his companion, Sofia Sopega, who were both on board

The Group of Seven (G7) wealthy economies condemned Belarus on Thursday for forcing a passenger plane to land so the authorities could arrest a journalist on board.

"This action jeopardised the safety of the passengers and crew of the flight. It was also a serious attack on the rules governing civil aviation," said the statement, issued by Britain's foreign office on behalf of foreign ministers from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and Britain.

"We will enhance our efforts, including through further sanctions as appropriate, to promote accountability for the actions of the Belarusian authorities."

"We demand the immediate and unconditional release" of Roman Protasevich, "as well as all other journalists and political prisoners held in Belarus," the ministers said in a joint statement published by the British government.

International disapproval of Belarus and its president, Alexander Lukashenko, has increased since the regime diverted a Ryanair jet on Sunday to arrest Protasevich, an opposition journalist, and his companion, Sofia Sopega, who were both on board.

The G7 ministers accused Lukashenko of jeopardising the safety of the passengers and crew on the flight. 

"We call on the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to urgently address this challenge to its rules and standards," said the statement.

"This action also represents a serious attack on media freedom," it added. 

"We will enhance our efforts, including through further sanctions as appropriate, to promote accountability for the actions of the Belarusian authorities."

Dominic Raab, foreign minister for Britain, which currently holds the G7 presidency, wrote on Twitter that "we will use all the tools at our disposal to hold the Lukashenko regime to account".

(With inputs from agencies)