Sofia Sapega, Russian student arrested alongside Belarus activist, appears in 'confession' video

Airport personnel and security forces are seen on the tarmac in front of a Ryanair flight which was forced to land in Minsk Belarus

Protasevich was detained after his flight touched down in Minsk. Source Reuters

According to local media, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko had personally deployed the warplane to escort the Ryanair jet.

Poland wants to turn the investigation into the forced landing of the Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius by the Belarusian authorities into an global case, Polish Justice Minister and Prosecutor General Zbigniew Ziobro has said.

Lukashenko and his allies are under European and US sanctions over the violent crackdown on post-election protests that gripped the nation past year.

In response to Pratasevich's arrest and the diversion of the flight, which was traveling between two EU countries, leaders quickly agreed to ban Belarusian airlines from using the airspace and airports of the 27-nation bloc and urged European airlines to avoid Belarus' airspace.

A defiant President Alexander Lukashenko has defended Belarus's diversion of a European flight and arrest of a dissident on board, lashing out at critics at home and overseas. He called it an "absolute lie" that a fighter jet he scrambled forced the plane to land.

The 26-year-old activist co-ran the Nexta Telegram channels, prominent voices of the opposition that helped mobilise and coordinate protesters.

"I continue to cooperate with the investigation and have confessed to organizing mass riots in the city of Minsk", he also said. After his detention, the 26-year old journalist was seen in a brief video clip on Belarusian state television late Monday, speaking rapidly to say that he was confessing to some of the charges authorities have leveled against him.

Her lawyer said she had been remanded in pre-trial detention for two months and Russian Federation confirmed she was being detained as a criminal suspect.

"They're going to kill him in there".

Foreign minister Vladimir Makei also warned that Belarus could opt out of the EU's Eastern Partnership in view of the new sanctions.

"This outrageous incident and the video Mr. Pratasevich appears to have made under duress are shameful assaults on both political dissent and the freedom of the press", Biden said in a statement.

Last year's protests lasted for months, with tens of thousands taking to the streets to denounce Lukashenko, but were brutally quashed and thousands were detained - many of whom reported torture and abuse in custody.

Ms Sapega's mother, Anna Dudich, told the BBC that Sofia had not been working in Lithuania for Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.

Diplomatic sources told AFP the UN Security Council would hold an informal meeting on Belarus on Wednesday but was unlikely to agree on a collective statement because of Russia's support for Minsk.

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