Report: Arrested EgyptAir Hijacker’s First Demand Was to Speak to His Ex-Wife

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An EgyptAir Airbus A-320 sits on the tarmac of Larnaca aiport after it was hijacked on March 29, 2016. Photo: GEORGE MICHAEL

Hours after a man announced that he was wrapped in explosives, diverted an EgyptAir flight to Cyprus, and held several people hostage while demanding to speak to his Cypriot ex-wife, authorities have apprehended the suspect and freed all aboard, according to NBC News.

The plane was heading from Alexandria to Cairo, when the hijacker, whom authorities identify as Seif Eldin Mustafa, told the pilot he was wearing an explosive belt and demanded the plane be redirected to Turkey or Cyprus. The Airbus A320 landed in Larnaca, Cyprus, at 7:50 a.m. local time. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Cyprus has confirmed the suspect’s arrest.

Negotiations quickly secured the release of all but four of the flight’s passengers. The number of passengers originally onboard has been variously reported as 55 and 81. Regardless, the hijacker detained those unlucky few, along with much of the flight’s crew, while demanding that local authorities put him in contact with his ex-wife, according to NBC. The hijacker reportedly asked for asylum, and struck negotiators as an “unstable personality.”

Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades said the hijacking was “not something that has to do with terrorism.”

Nonetheless, the incident adds to concerns about the safety of air travel in Egypt. In October, a Russian passenger jet came down over the Sinai Peninsula, killing 224 people. ISIS claimed responsibility, and Russia eventually concluded that a bomb took down the plane.  

Report: Man Hijacks Plane to Speak With Ex-Wife