The arrest of a prominent opponent of Belarus’ authoritarian president on Sunday after the airplane in which he was traveling was diverted to the country following a bomb threat appears to have been carried out with the help of secret agents operating on Greek territory, Kathimerini understands.
26-year-old Raman Pratasevich, who faces charges that could bring 15 years in prison, was aboard the Ryanair flight from Athens, to the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius when it changed course to head for Minsk. The incident was described by some EU leaders as a hijacking.
While still at Athens International Airport, Pratasevich is said to have informed colleagues via the Telegram messaging application that he was approached by an unknown Russian-speaking man who took a snap of him.
If the information is confirmed, then there is reason to believe that foreign secret agents were operating at the Greek airport.
According to reports, 170 passengers were aboard the Ryanair flight from Athens. After seven hours on the ground in Minsk, the plane took off without six of the passengers: Pratasevich, his partner and four Russian nationals. It is likely that these four men took part in the operation.
Greece’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement Sunday strongly condemning the forced diversion of the aircraft and the arrest of Pratasevich.
“A shocking act… enough is enough,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted adding that Monday’s European Council must step up pressure on Belarus.