2021.05.25 09:44

Lithuanian leaders say Protasevich’s confession may be forced

LRT.lt2021.05.25 09:44

Lithuania’s president and foreign minister have spoken out about the video allegedly showing Roman Protasevich, the Belarusian journalist who was detained after the regime hijacked a Vilnius-bound Ryanair flight, may have been obtained using torture.

Aistė Skaisgirytė, the chief foreign policy adviser to President Gitanas Nausėda, said the confession was clearly forced.

“Knowing how such confessions are obtained from people, we don’t buy it as a real statement,” she told Žinių Radijas radio on Tuesday. “But the person is alive and that’s the good news.”

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said the video shows that the confession may have been obtained using torture.

“I’m not the only one who thinks that he may have been forced, through violence, to say these words,” Landsbergis told LRT RADIO on Tuesday. “We can see abrasions on his face, which leave suspicions whether he wasn’t forced [to confess], tortured.”

Read more: Belarus scrambles air force, diverts Vilnius-bound flight to Minsk to arrest dissident

In a video circulated by Belarus' state TV channels on Monday, Belarusian blogger Roman Protasevich, detained when an Athens-to-Vilnius Ryanair flight he was on was forced to land in Minsk, says he is in good health and that he played a role in organising mass protests in Minsk last year.

"Yesterday, I was arrested by officials from the Ministry of Internal Affairs at the national airport in Minsk. [...] I am in Detention Centre No. 1 in Minsk. I can say that I have no health problems, including with my heart or any other organs," Protasevich said in the video.

"The attitude of employees towards me is as correct as possible and according to the law," Protasevich said. "I continue cooperating with investigators and am confessing to having organised mass unrest in the city of Minsk."

The 26-year-old is wearing a black hoodie in the video and sits behind a table with a pack of cigarettes by his side. Some dark markings are visible on his forehead.

The video appears on several channels of the Telegram messaging app.

Deutsche Welle contributed to the report.

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