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A court in Belarus sentences a dissident journalist to 8 years in prison

TALLINN, Estonia — A court in Belarus has convicted a dissident journalist who was removed from a commercial airplane that was forced to land in the country.

Raman Pratasevich stood trial on charges of organizing unrest and plotting to seize power. The court sentenced him to eight years in prison on Wednesday.

Pratasevich and his Russian girlfriend were arrested in May 2021 when their Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania was ordered to land in the capital of Belarus, Minsk.

Belarusian authorities said there was a bomb threat but later said no explosives were found on board. The incident elicited outrage in Western countries, with officials condemning it as tantamount to hijacking.

Pratasevich ran a Telegram messaging app channel that was widely used by participants in mass protests against the disputed August 2020 election that gave authoritarian Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko a sixth term in office.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The Associated Press