US President Joe Biden has denounced the forced diversion of a passenger plane and the subsequent arrest of a dissident journalist by Belarusian authorities.
In a statement released on Monday, Biden said the United States condemns the incident in the "strongest possible terms," which he described as a direct affront to international norms.
He added that the video, which journalist Roman Protasevich "appears to have made under duress are shameful assaults on both political dissent and the freedom of press."
Biden called for freeing Protasevich as well as for the release of the hundreds of political prisoners who the US says are being unjustly detained by the regime of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
The US president called for an international investigation into the case, and expressed support for a decision by the European Union to impose sanctions on Belarus.
Biden said he has asked his team to develop appropriate options to hold accountable those responsible, in close coordination with the EU, other allies and partners as well as international organizations.
Meanwhile, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke over phone with Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya on Monday. Sullivan conveyed the US's strong support for Belarusian people who demands democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms. He added that the US will hold the Belarusian government to account.