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Attempt to hijack Turkish plane to Sochi foiled

ANKARA, Turkey — A Ukrainian man tried to hijack a Turkey-bound flight to Sochi, Russia, as the Winter Olympics were kicking off Friday, but the pilot tricked him and landed in Istanbul instead, where he was detained after a four-hour standoff on a plane full of passengers, an official said.

A Turkish F-16 fighter was scrambled as soon as the pilot on the flight from Kharkiv, Ukraine, with 110 passengers aboard signaled there was a hijacking attempt, according to NTV television.

The F-16 pilot escorted the plane safely to its original destination at Sabiha Gokcen airport in Istanbul.

Officials credited the pilot and crew for convincing the 45-year-old-man, who claimed he had a bomb, that they were following his wishes.

"Through a very successful implementation by our pilot and crew, the plane was landed in Istanbul instead of Sochi," Istanbul governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu told reporters at the airport. "He thought it was going to Sochi but after a while he realized that (the plane) was in Istanbul."

He said the suspected hijacker was arrested after a standoff during which a negotiator persuaded him to allow passengers to exit.

The man's motive was unclear. Mutlu said there was no indication that the man was a member of any terror organization and Mutlu did not give his name.

Activists arrested as Olympics begins

Russian police on Friday arrested several gay rights activists protesting in St. Petersburg and Moscow on the opening day of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. In Moscow, police detained 10 gay rights activists. In St. Petersburg, four were held. A Russian law banning gay "propaganda" from reaching minors has drawn global criticism and calls for boycott of the Games from gay activists and others.

Attempt to hijack Turkish plane to Sochi foiled 02/07/14 [Last modified: Saturday, February 8, 2014 12:17am]
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