All flights over Belarus must cease after 'air piracy' - senior UK lawmaker

LONDON, May 24 (Reuters) - The chairman of the British parliament’s foreign affairs committee called on Monday for all civilian airlines to cease flying over Belarus after what he said was an act of air piracy by President Alexander Lukashenko.

Belarus scrambled a fighter jet and flagged what turned out to be a false bomb alert to force a Ryanair plane to land on Sunday and then detained an opposition-minded journalist who was on board, drawing condemnation from Europe and the United States.

“We need to stop any aircraft overflying Belarus,” Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Tugendhat told Times Radio.

“This is an act of air-piracy, combined with hijacking, and eventually linked to kidnapping.” (Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Paul Sandle)