Belarusian journalist arrested off flight 'hostage' at briefing

Raman Pratasevich, the Belarusian dissident journalist who was arrested after his flight was diverted to Minsk last month, was present at a Belarusian foreign ministry news conference on Monday.

“No matter what he says, let’s not forget: he is a hostage. And the regime is using him as a trophy,” Franak Viacorka, an adviser to exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, said on Twitter on Monday.

In May, Belarusian authorities diverted the Ryanair flight travelling from Greece to Lithuania in what EU leaders called a “hijacking”.

The 26-year-old journalist founded a messaging app channel that was widely used in last year’s massive protests against hardline President Alexander Lukashenko.

BBC correspondent Jonah Fisher left the news conference when Pratasevich appeared, saying later on Twitter: “not taking part when he is clearly there under duress.”