US imposes air travel restriction to Belarus after arrest of opposition journalist

US imposes air travel restriction to Belarus after arrest of opposition journalist
© Greg Nash

The U.S. Department of Transportation imposed a final order for air travel restrictions on Belarus on Tuesday after the country diverted a flight flying over the country to arrest a journalist.

The final order states ticket sales for flights between Belarus and the U.S. are banned immediately, including “interline” travel where multiple flights are used to get to a destination. 

The department proposed this move back in June after Belarus forced a Ryanair flight to land so forces loyal to the country's president could arrest a journalist.

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The flight was from Lithuania to Greece, but the country forced it to land in Minsk because a journalist and critic of Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenka, Raman Pratasevich, was on the flight.

Pratasevich and his girlfriend were arrested after the flight landed in a move condemned by President BidenJoe BidenFighter jet escorts aircraft that entered restricted airspace during UN gathering Julian Castro knocks Biden administration over refugee policy FBI investigating alleged assault on Fort Bliss soldier at Afghan refugee camp MORE.

The move prompted the U.S. to place dozens of sanctions on Belarus in coordination with other countries.

There have been massive protests in Belarus after Lukashenka claimed he won his reelection in a landslide while many believe the election was rigged.

Lukashenka’s main opposition in the election, Viktor Babariko, was arrested on charges he said were politically motivated and barred from running in the election. Babariko was sentenced to 14 years in prison on corruption charges.