25 May 2021 — Voltaire Network
US President Joe Biden and the EU heads of state and government strongly condemned the arrest of journalist Raman Pratassevich in Belarus.
The Ryanair aircraft, passing through Belarusian airspace while transporting him from Greece to Lithuania on 23 May 2021, was grounded in Minsk after a false bomb threat. The journalist was then arrested for inciting anti-government protests last year.
In its statement, the European Union “calls on the International Civil Aviation Organization to urgently investigate this unprecedented and unacceptable incident” and announces the adoption of new sanctions against Belarusian officials and to isolate the country.
Yet, on 3 July 2013, the European Union had forced Bolivia’s presidential plane, with sitting president Evo Morales on board, to land in Vienna (Austria) or risk being shot down. The EU intended to search it and arrest Edward Snowden, whom the United States believed to be inside. Therefore, this type of incident is hardly “unprecedented and unacceptable” as far as the EU is concerned.
At the time, the Vice President of the United States was Joe Biden, now President. He had personally threatened various states willing to harbor “whistleblower” Edward Snowden. The spokesperson for the US Secretary of State was Jen Psaki, currently serving as White House spokeswoman. She had defended the right of the United States to arrest and condemn “this traitor”. When asked about the two incidents, she could no longer remember.
“The European Council on the Pratassevich affair”, Union européenne (Conseil européen), Voltaire Network, 24 May 2021.
“Joe Biden on Diversion of Ryanair Flight and Arrest of Journalist in Belarus”, by Joseph R. Biden Jr., Voltaire Network, 24 May 2021.