Ethiopian Plane Hijack: An Attempt for Political Asylum in Geneva by Pilot

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By Johnlee Varghese | February 17, 2014 8:11 PM EST

The Swiss authorities have confirmed that they have detained the hijacker of an Ethiopian Airlines flight that was forced to land at Geneva's international airport on Monday. However, reports on twitter suggest that the pilot of the flight ET 702 may have been involved in the hijack.

Reuters
Police officers stand around hijacked Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 702 at Cointrin airport in Geneva. Reuters

Matthew Keys, who calls himself the Internet's journalist and a former Reuters social media editor posted a Soundcloud link on his Twitter page -@MatthewKeysLive, which is an apparent recording of a radio communication between the aircraft and air traffic control demanding asylum.

In the 1.24-long minute audio, the pilot or the hijacker says, "We need asylum, or assurance that we will not be transferred to the (unintelligible) government." It is also found that the pilot threatened to leave the plane through window.

It has now emerged that apparently the co-pilot took over the plane,while the flight captain took a bathroom break. The story is still developing and more information will emerge in time.

In the meantime, journalist Matthew Keys,who broke the story on the hiijack confirming the involvement of the co-pilot tweeted: "Geneva police tell me they don't believe any individual other than copilot involved in ET702 incident."

As per reports, the passengers of the plane were unhurt and the hijacker’s identity is yet to be officially confirmed. The authenticity of the Soundcloud recording is yet to be confirmed.

The State-run Ethiopian television said that there were 193 passengers onboard the Boeing Aircraft that was on its way to Rome, but instead was diverted to Geneva, Reuters reported. Out of the 193 passengers, 140 were Italian nationals.  

Monday's plane hijack created much furor, as the Ethiopian flag carrier has often been involved in several hijackings in the past.

In 1993, an Ethiopian used a gun hidden in his hat to hijack a German passenger jet, bound for New York. He was later sentenced to 20 years in a U.S. prison.

Two years later, police in Greece overpowered an Ethiopian hijacker, who held a knife to the throat of an Olympic Airways stewardess and demanded political asylum.

At least 50 people were killed, when a hijacked Ethiopian Airlines passenger jet crashed in the Indian Ocean in 1996. In 2001, a dozen Ethiopian students hijacked a plane carrying around 60 people and flew to Sudan.

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(Photo: Reuters / )
Police officers stand around hijacked Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 702 at Cointrin airport in Geneva. Reuters
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