Official: Man who tried to divert plane to Sochi nabbed

KAS, Turkey – Turkish security officers on Friday subdued an airline passenger who threatened to hijack an airliner to Sochi, Russia, where the Winter Olympics are starting, Turkish officials said.

Pegasus Airlines said that a flight that left Kharkiv, Ukraine, with 110 people aboard landed in Istanbul after a man on the plane claimed to have a bomb.

The plane landed with an F-16 military jet alongside at Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen airport and was surrounded by security officers, Turkish news channels broadcast. The officers entered the plane and apprehended the man, a Ukrainian national, Turkish Samanyolu Haber news channel reported.

The other 109 passengers were evacuated, the channel said.

Huseyin Avni Mutlu, the Istanbul governor, said on Twitter that the man was slightly injured and did not have a bomb on him. The man's motive was unclear, but Mutlu said he had "requests concerning his own country" and wanted to relay a "message concerning sporting activities in Sochi."

"We were receiving through various channels information that there could be initiatives to sabotage the spirit of peace arising in Sochi, but we are saddened that such an event took place in our city," Mutlu said.

The passenger was in seat 2F and was tricked into thinking the plane had landed in Sochi, Samanyolu Haber reported. Russia's Interfax news agency reported that the Ukrainian Security Service said the man was drunk.

Turkish Transport Ministry undersecretary Habib Soluk said the man had shouted that there was bomb on board and then tried to get into the locked cockpit, prompting the pilot to signal that a hijacking attempt was underway, Turkey's NTV television reported.

The F-16 was dispatched to force the plane to land.

Ukraine, which borders Russia, is in the midst of a political crisis in which anti-government protesters have occupied buildings to demand the resignation of the country's pro-Russian president.

Ukraine declared independence from Russia's previous incarnation, the communist Soviet Union, in 1991, and has been divided over whether to seek closer ties to Europe and the West or with Russia.


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