Pilot Tricked Ukraine Hijacker

He landed in Istanbul, announced it was Sochi

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 8, 2014 11:08 AM CST

(Newser) – When a Ukraine passenger aboard a Turkish passenger plane announced that he had a bomb yesterday and ordered the plane to fly to Sochi, the pilot pulled a fast one, reports Radio Free Europe. He pretended to oblige but brought the plane down at an airport in Istanbul instead. Upon landing, he announced that they had touched down in Russia, and the hijacker was apparently none the wiser. After a four-hour standoff on the tarmac, the hijacker let all the passengers leave before being captured. He had no bomb.

Not that the exact destination mattered all that much: Authorities say the 45-year-old hijacker used his stunt to demand the release of anti-government protesters in Ukraine, as well as former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, reports AP. He apparently wanted to go to Sochi because Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych is meeting ally Vladimir Putin there amid the Olympic Games. Authorities think he acted alone and has no ties to terror groups. While some reports say he was drunk, the New York Times quotes an Istanbul official who says he was probably on some kind of drug to keep him alert.

Passengers of private Turkish company Pegasus leave the plane at the Sabiha Gokcen Airport in Istanbul.
Passengers of private Turkish company Pegasus leave the plane at the Sabiha Gokcen Airport in Istanbul.   (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
The plane sits at the Sabiha Gokcen Airport in Istanbul.
The plane sits at the Sabiha Gokcen Airport in Istanbul.   (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
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