JNN 08 Feb 2014 ISTANBUL — A passenger aboard a commercial airline flight from Ukraine to Turkey tried to hijack it to Sochi, Russia, on Friday after the Winter Olympics had started, but the plane landed safely in Istanbul and the hijacker — apparently deluded by the crew into thinking he was in Sochi — was taken into custody, Turkish news reports said.
The hijacker, identified as a male Ukrainian citizen, claimed to be armed with a bomb, the Turkish television stations NTV and CNNTurk quoted a Transport Ministry under secretary, Habib Soluk, as saying.
The television stations said the crew of the plane, a Pegasus Airlines Boeing 737-800 with 110 passengers aboard, had fooled the hijacker into believing the aircraft was landing in Sochi instead of Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, where members of the special security forces entered the aircraft and detained him.
Mr. Soluk was quoted as saying the pilots had darkened the passenger cabin lights and the “hijacker was deluded into believing that the plane was heading at Sochi.”
It was not immediately clear whether a bomb or other explosive was aboard the plane. But the Kiev Post, a Ukrainian newspaper, reported on its website that the passenger had been “drunk and carried no dangerous items,” attributing the information to the Security Service of Ukraine.
Turkish news reports said he was taken to the Istanbul Security Headquarters, as television footage showed the plane parked with fire brigades and ambulances surrounding it.
Turkey’s Transport, Maritime and Communications Ministry, in a statement quoted by the semiofficial Anadolu News Agency, said the aircraft landed safely “under all necessary measures.”
The Russian authorities have imposed intense security on the Winter Olympics because of the threat of terrorist attacks on the games, which began on Thursday and last through Feb. 23.