UPDATED: Ireland’s foreign minister says Ryanair incident is air piracy, NATO to discuss incident

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Ireland’s foreign minister on Monday described the diversion of the Irish carrier Ryanair’s flight to Minsk as “aviation piracy”.

“This was effectively aviation piracy, state-sponsored,” Simon Coveney told RTE radio.

Belarus scrambled a fighter jet and flagged what turned out to be a false bomb alert to force a Ryanair plane to land on Sunday, then detained an journalist critical of the government who was on board, drawing condemnation from Europe and the United States. 

Coveney added that Ireland believes that several members of the security services left a Ryanair plane when it was forced to land in Minsk on Sunday.

“Five or six people effectively left the plane. Only one of them was arrested, which would suggest that the others were secret service people,” Coveney said. 

The chairman of the British parliament’s foreign affairs committee said on Monday that Belarus’s use of a false bomb alert and fighter jet to force a civilian airliner to the ground was ‘a warlike act’.

“This was a flight between two NATO members and between two EU members,” Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Tugendhat told BBC Radio. “If it’s not an act of war, it’s certainly a warlike act.”

The Belarusian foreign ministry said on Monday that Minsk would be ready to let experts visit if needed for an investigation into the diversion of a passenger plane that has sparked an outcry, and to show them data, the RIA news agency reported.

Belarusian authorities scrambled a fighter jet and flagged what turned out to be a false bomb alert to force a Ryanair plane to land on Sunday, then detained a dissident journalist who was on board, drawing condemnation from Europe and the United States.

Meanwhile, NATO ambassadors will discuss the forced landing of a Ryanair plane in Minsk on Tuesday, an official with the Western military alliance said on Monday.

See also: Global Aviation Stunned By Belarus Jetliner Diversion and UPDATED: EU Calls For International Inquiry Into Forced Landing Of Ryanair Plane

Photo: Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney – EC Audiosvisual Service

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