Hijack drama ends peacefully

Turkish police have detained the man, who was on board the private Pegasus flight that was travelling from the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir to Istanbul, Transport Minister Binali Yildirim said.


The man, identified as Mehmet Goksin Gol, initially said he wanted the Boeing 37 diverted to the capital, Ankara, and then changed his mind and demanded that it change its route to Tehran, Iran, Mr Yildirim said.

The pilots landed at Ankara's Esenboga airport, where the man gave himself up and was arrested.

The 39-year-old was not armed and did not have explosives.

He had claimed to have an explosive device that he said could be set off with a mobile phone signal, Mr Yildirim said.

Earlier, officials said the man had stormed the cockpit, but Pegasus airline CEO Ali Sabanci said the cockpit was locked in accordance with international flight rules and the man was not able to enter it.

Motive still unclear

Mr Yildirim said the man had not made any political demands and the reason he wanted to divert the plane was under investigation.

Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu told reporters the man stood up during the flight and shouted: "I have a bomb".

The Boeing 737 left Diyarbakir at 5.40pm (0040 AEST).

Pilots notified authorities of the attempt to divert it half an hour later, the transport minister said.

There were no injuries.

There were 178 passengers and six crew on board.

The government-run Anatolia news agency said that in 1994 the man was acquitted on charges of aiding and abetting the separatist Kurdish rebel group, the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK.

The agency also said the man had been charged for using and selling drugs in the past.

Mr Aksu said police were investigating possible links to the PKK, which has been fighting for autonomy in Turkey's southeast since 1984.

Second hijack scare in months

It was the second hijacking attempt by a Turk claiming to have a bomb in less than a year.

In October, a Turkish army deserter, claiming to have bombs strapped to his body, hijacked a Turkish Airlines plane during a flight from Tirana, Albania, to Istanbul.

The hijacker who had no bombs released all passengers unharmed after fighter jets escorted the aircraft to an Italian airport.

The man was seeking asylum because he feared persecution in his Muslim homeland after his conversion to Christianity and wanted Pope Benedict XVI's protection.

Comments are closed.