Co-pilot of hijacked plane arrested

The man who hijacked an Ethiopian Airlines flight en route from Addis Ababa to Rome was the co-pilot, according to the Geneva airport where the plane was forced to land.


An airport spokesman says the co-pilot says he seized his chance when the pilot went to the bathroom.

Images of the plane at Geneva airport show the co-pilot escaping the plane through a window using a rope.

The spokesman says the co-pilot has said he feels threatened in his country and wants to seek asylum in Switzerland.

The man, born in 1983 and an Ethiopian citizen, had contacted Geneva Airport and said he needed to land to refuel.

Ethiopian Airlines flight 702 was en-route from Addis Ababa to Rome when online flight watchers noticed the aircraft moving in a strange flight pattern.

They also reported hearing a “Squawk 7500” hijack radio code.

The flight was hijacked as it was flying over Sudan, the Tribune de Geneve newspaper reports.

The flight “was hijacked… it landed in Geneva at 6am (1600 AEDT),” Geneva police spokesman Christophe Fortis said.

“The airport has been closed and the situation is under control,” he said.

Ethiopian Airlines said the 200 passengers were unharmed.

Read the full statement from Ethiopian Airlines here.

All other flights from the airport were cancelled, and its gates closed, according to Swiss news broadcaster RTS.

Red ’emergency steps’ and around 20 Swiss police preparing to unload passengers #HijackedPlane pic.twitter上海桑拿,/UzBJEqMnP9

— Harriet Hadfield (@SkyHarriet) February 17, 2014

Ethiopian Airlines flight 702 on runway, Geneva Airport diverted from Rome after crew sent mayday ‘hijacking’ signal pic.twitter上海桑拿,/5zQhM8LNft

— Harriet Hadfield (@SkyHarriet) February 17, 2014

First pics of #EthiopianAirlines hijacked aircraft coming through after forced landing in #Geneva. #Hijackedplane pic.twitter上海桑拿,/olpnIpE8Pr

— Gavin Lee (@GavinLeeBBC) February 17, 2014