Ryanair flight 4978 was about to begin its descent to Vilnius in Lithuania on Sunday when it suddenly changed direction after a "security alert", turning sharply east and descending towards the capital of Belarus, Minsk. By subscribing, you can help us get the story right. Minsk is less than 200 km (125 miles) from Vilnius. Then they started releasing passengers and took those two.
The Ryanair plane had nearly reached the Lithuanian border and was less than 30 minutes away from Vilnius when it turned direction and landed at Minsk under fighter jet escort. There were conflicting accounts of the move.
Former presidential candidate of Belarus Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said that a week ago she was returning to Vilnius on the same flight as the detained Protasevich.
"The regime forced the landing.to arrest (the) journalist and activist", she wrote on Twitter. The plane made an emergency landing over a bomb threat, which later turned out to be fake.
But Ryanair said in a statement that Belarusian air traffic control instructed the plane to divert to the capital.
Some governments have described the incident as a state-sanctioned hijacking.
The presidential press service said the bomb threat was received while the plane was over Belarusian territory; officials later said no explosives were found onboard.
"Belarusian airspace is completely unsafe for any commercial flight, and it should be deemed this not only by the European Union but by the global community".
British foreign minister Dominic Raab said there would be serious implications for the "outlandish action".More news: Local Pharmacist Ready to Complete AstraZeneca Vaccinations More
Mr Pratasevich is a co-founder of the Telegram messaging app's Nexta channel, which Belarus previous year declared as extremist after it was used to help organise major protests against Mr Lukashenko.
The arrest comes amid a wider crackdown by Belarusian authorities on opposition media.
Belarus's top investigative agency said it had opened a criminal case into a false bomb threat.
Passengers were taken off the plane in Minsk.
"We saw from the window that Roman is standing alone, and one policeman with dog was trying to find something (in his luggage)". "Lithuania has launched an investigation to find out what really happened on that plane", he said on Facebook.
"An ICAO investigation of the incident will be essential", he declared, referring to the International Civil Aviation Organisation, a United Nations agency.
However, opposition groups have said it was an operation by Belarus special services to "hijack" the flight so they could arrest Mr Protasevich.
"Not a single person who flies over Belarus can be sure of his safety".
Extremely worrying reports of a Ryanair plane forced to land in Belarus to detain an opposition blogger.More news: Dead From Extreme Weather in Gansu Ultramarathon
Belarusian authorities said there were 123 passengers on the plane.
Western countries also expressed alarm.
The charges under investigation include hijacking of a plane for terrorism purposes and treatment of humans in violation of global treaties, it said in the statement.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted: "The forced landing of a commercial plane to detain a journalist is an unprecedented shocking act".
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said "Such an act can not be left without definite consequences from the side of the European Union" and called for Pratasevich to be released.
The incident has drawn worldwide criticism, with Germany calling for an immediate explanation and Poland's prime minister describing it as a "reprehensible act of state terrorism".
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda called for an global response.
"Independent media are an essential pillar supporting the rule of law and a vital component of a democratic society". Last week, 11 staff members of the TUT.by news website were detained by police.More news: Pfizer and AstraZeneca 'highly effective' against India Covid variant