Leonid Churo, the director of the state’s air navigation company, Belaeronavigatsia Republican Unitary Air Navigation Services Enterprise, and three others have been indicted on one depend of conspiracy to commit plane piracy, for calling in a faux bomb menace to Minsk air site visitors management after which protecting up the transfer by directing air site visitors controllers to falsify incident studies concerning the passenger airplane’s diversion.
“The defendants are based in Belarus and remain at large,” a Thursday assertion from the US Department of Justice stated.
The authentic flight route on May 23, 2021 was from Athens, Greece, to Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital — a path that crosses by Belarus.
According to the charges, Churo personally referred to as within the faux bomb menace and directed Minsk air site visitors management to divert the passenger airplane to Minsk.
The incident befell as Belarusian chief Alexander Lukashenko had been keeping off opposition protests since claiming victory after a hotly disputed election extensively condemned by the worldwide group.
Protasevich was one in every of dozens of journalists and activists campaigning in exile in opposition to Lukashenko’s rule.
Lukashenko, who has been in energy since 1994, was abruptly inaugurated into workplace for his sixth consecutive time period in September 2020 following an election that the European Union stated was not legit.
Amid mass protests in Belarus that adopted, Lukashenko and the state safety equipment forcibly faraway from the nation or detained main opposition figures.
Protasevich is the founding father of the Telegram channel Nexta, which helped mobilize anti-Lukashenko protests. He was charged in 2020 with “organizing mass riots and group actions that grossly violate public order.”
Government critics feared the younger dissident was being compelled to handle the nation underneath duress.
Later that month, Protasevich was moved from a detention facility to accommodate arrest, Reuters reported.
CNN’s Tim Lister, Olga Pavlova, Zahra Ullah and Hanna Yahrova contributed reporting.