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Raman Pratasevich. Photo: Erin Scott/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden said in a statement Monday his administration is developing "appropriate options" in coordination with the EU to hold Belarus accountable following the country's diversion of a flight to arrest an opposition leader.

Driving the news: Earlier Monday, the European Council called for an independent investigation into the episode, the submission of sanctions proposals and advised EU-based carriers to avoid and airspace.

The big picture: A Ryanair flight en route from Greece to Lithuania was forced by Belarusian air control to land in Belarus' capital Minsk Sunday, under the pretext of "a potential security risk on board."

  • Belarusian authorities then detained Raman Pratasevich, a journalist and activist who was critical in organizing mass anti-government protests in Belarus last year, and his partner Sofia Sapega.
  • Belarus' actions have been described a "hijacking" by some European leaders, who have vowed the country will face consequences.

What they're saying: "I welcome the news that the European Union has called for targeted economic sanctions and other measures, and have asked my team to develop appropriate options to hold accountable those responsible, in close coordination with the European Union, other allies and partners, and international organizations," Biden said.

  • Biden called Pratasevich's detainment by the Belarusian authorities is a "direct affront to international norms."
  • "The United States joins countries around the world in calling for his release, as well as for the release of the hundreds of political prisoners who are being unjustly detained by the Lukashenka regime," he said.

Go deeper

Aug 31, 2021 - World

70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

Staffers at a Vacci-Bus wait for vaccination seekers in July at the Place des Martyrs in Brussels. Photo: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the EU one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
2 hours ago - Science

All-civilian Inspiration4 is back on Earth after flight to space

A side-by-side of the Inspiration4 crew and a shot of their capsule on the way back to Earth. Photo: SpaceX

The all-civilian Inspiration4 crew is back on Earth after their three-day mission in orbit.

The big picture: The launch and landing of this fully amateur, private space crew marks a changing of the guard from spaceflight being a largely government-led venture to being under the purview of private companies.

28 U.S. citizens depart Afghanistan on Qatar Airways flight

Passengers board a Qatar Airways aircraft bound to Qatar at the airport in Kabul on September 10, 2021. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department on Saturday confirmed that a Qatar Airways charter flight left Kabul on Friday with 28 U.S. citizens and seven lawful permanent residents on board.

The big picture: Friday's flight is the third such airlift by Qatar Airways since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, AP reports.