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EgyptAir Hijacking Ends With Suspect In Custody


We've been following the hijacking of an EgyptAir flight this morning. The plane was headed from Alexandria to Cairo but was forced to land in Cypress. The hijacking is now over and the suspect has been arrested. Egyptian and Cypriot authorities say that the belt worn by the hijacker did not contain explosives as he had originally claimed. Earlier, we spoke with Menelaos Hadjicostis. He's a reporter with the Associated Press, and he was at the airport where the events unfolded.

MENELAOS HADJICOSTIS: After the hijacker gave himself up and he was promptly arrested by the authorities, apparently they - he was wearing some kind of a vest, but no explosives from what I understand - what I'm told by police - were found.

MARTIN: Do we have any idea if he was carrying a weapon of any kind?

HADJICOSTIS: No, we have no information of any weapon that he had on him. He just had - he had threatened to have explosives on him but none were found.

MARTIN: What more can you tell us about this man?

HADJICOSTIS: Well, what we have from the foreign ministry, who came out with an official statement, is that this was not a terrorist incident, apparently, that this was the act of a lone individual who had, quote, unquote, "psychological problems." Police sources have told me that he had a Cypriot wife - a former wife whom he had children with - four children - and that he wanted to speak to and to deliver some kind of message - a written statement of sorts. That statement, from what I'm told, complained about the Egyptian regime. And that he had asked - that he had demanded, rather, that some female prisoners in Egypt be released. It's all very strange to say the least. But things ended peacefully with no one apparently being hurt. So that's the good news.

MARTIN: Most of the passengers were released early in this standoff. But then we saw photos of a man jumping out of the cockpit during the standoff - obviously a harrowing experience. Have you been able to talk with any of the passengers or crew members at this point?

HADJICOSTIS: No, unfortunately the aircraft itself is situated in a part of the airport that's isolated, of course, in the old terminal that's not being used for passenger traffic. The actual passengers - we don't know exactly where they are. But we have no access to them. It seemed pretty dramatic, certainly, when that individual jumped out of the cockpit window. But we do - all we can say is that it all ended peacefully without anybody being hurt.

MARTIN: Associated Press reporter Menelaos Hadjicostis. He's on the ground there at the airport where his hijacking has now been resolved. Thanks so much for your time.

HADJICOSTIS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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