Belarus faces criticism for diverting flight

Belarus is facing growing criticism from the international community, after authorities in the country forced a jetliner to land in the capital and detained a dissident activist who was on board.

The International Civil Aviation Organization, or ICAO, posted a tweet saying it was "strongly concerned by the apparent forced landing."

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also said on Twitter that those responsible for what she described as the "hijacking" must be sanctioned.

European Council President Charles Michel issued a statement. He said, "I condemn in the strongest possible terms the forced landing." He called for the release of the detained activist, Roman Protasevich.

Michel also said EU leaders will discuss what he called the "unprecedented incident" on Monday during a European Council meeting. He added that "the incident will not remain without consequences."

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a tweet that the incident was serious, and dangerous, and requires an international investigation.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the United States strongly condemns the arrest of the activist. He also demanded Protasevich's immediate release.

Blinken added that the act "endangered the lives of more than 120 passengers, including US citizens." He said that "initial reports suggesting the involvement of the Belarusian security services and the use of Belarusian military aircraft to escort the plane are deeply concerning and require full investigation."
He also said, "We support the earliest possible meeting of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization to review these events."