Girlfriend of journalist taken from 'hijacked' flight seen in confession video

The jailed girlfriend of dissident journalist Roman Protasevich appeared in a video that appeared to have confessed while she was incarcerated.

Sofia Sapega, a 23-year-old Russian national, was arrested with the Lithuania-based blogger after her flight was diverted from a fighter plane to Minsk on Sunday.

The Belarusian fighter plane intercepted a Ryanair passenger jet carrying Mr Protasevich, a journalist criticizing Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, in an act denounced as “state piracy” by Western powers.

Sofia, a student who was out with Protasevich, was also arrested.

It was “in connection with the suspicion of having committed crimes under several articles of the Belarusian Criminal Code between August and September 2020,” said a statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Girlfriend of journalist taken from 'hijacked' flight seen in confession video 1

The Belarusian authorities have extended their detention by two months, reports the TASS news agency.

A video posted on a pro-Lukashenko channel on Telegram messaging app Tuesday evening showed a young woman sitting in a chair saying she was Sofia Sapega.

In the footage, she admitted that she was the editor of a social media channel that disclosed the personal information of Belarusian law enforcement personnel, a crime in Belarus.

Her mother, Anna Dudich, said in an interview on Tuesday that her daughter was innocent and simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The RIA news agency reported that Sofia was feeling fine and had not complained about inappropriate treatment, citing the Russian embassy in Belarus.

The plan is to take all measures to protect and support them, she added.

Sofia is a student at a university in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, where she flew from Greece with Roman Protasevich.

Meanwhile, Roman’s mother Natalia Protasevich has asked the international community to save her son.

Natalia Protasevich

In an interview she said: “I beg, I beg, I urge the entire international community to save him.

“He’s just a journalist, he’s just a kid, but please, please. I ask for help. Please save him. You will kill him there.”

He had already appeared in a video published on Monday in which he confirmed that he had played a role in organizing mass disruptions in Minsk over the past year.

But for his father, Dzmitry Protasevich, the video seemed to be the result of coercion.

In response to the incident, airlines rerouted their flights to bypass Belarusian airspace on Tuesday and Belarusian planes faced a possible ban from Europe as international outrage increased.

Western countries accused Belarus of kidnapping and piracy for intercepting the Ryanair plane while it was crossing the country.


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