The foreign affairs chiefs from the Group of Seven nations and the European Union have denounced the forced landing of a passenger plane and the subsequent detention of a dissident journalist by Belarusian authorities.
They released a joint statement on Thursday in response to the detention of Roman Protasevich. He was caught on Sunday after his flight was forced to land in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, while it was traveling through the country's airspace.
The statement says the officials "condemn in the strongest terms the unprecedented action by the Belarusian authorities."
The statement says the action "represents a serious attack on media freedom." The officials demand the "immediate and unconditional release" of the journalist, as well as all other journalists and political prisoners held in Belarus.
The statement says the officials will enhance their efforts, "including through further sanctions as appropriate, to promote accountability for the actions of the Belarusian authorities."
The statement says the forced landing "jeopardized the safety of the passengers and crew of the flight" and "was also a serious attack on the rules governing civil aviation."
The officials call on the International Civil Aviation Organization to "urgently address this challenge to its rules and standards."