The aircraft captain was under pressure.
Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary on Tuesday spoke about the incident with the Athens-Vilnius flight to the British Transport Committee, according to The Irish Times. Tut.by quotes excerpts from his speech:
• the flight diversion was “an intentional violation of all international aviation regulations”;
• Belarusian air traffic controllers informed the crew that they received “a real threat that if the plane enters Lithuanian airspace or tries to land at the Vilnius airport, a bomb will explode on board”;
• The captain “repeatedly” requested an open line of communication with the Ryanair operations center in Warsaw but was told that the other side was not responding, which “was completely untrue”;
• there was “significant pressure” on the captain to land in Minsk;
• after landing, “several unknown persons with video cameras” entered the cabin and “repeatedly tried to force the crew to say on video that they voluntarily went to Minsk,” but the crew refused to do so.
Recall that the ICAO report on the incident with the company's aircraft, as a result of which Raman Pratasevich and Sofia Sapega were detained, are promised to be presented in the next two weeks.
Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary also recalled three unknown passengers on the Athens-Vilnius flight who disappeared before the liner forcibly landed in Minsk took off again:
“We know from the security forces that most likely these three were some kind of KGB officers. Whether it was the Russian or Belarusian KGB, we do not know, and we are not sure if there is a big difference.