EgyptAir hijacker tells police he did it for love

LARNACA, Cyprus -- A Cyprus court has ordered the detention for eight days of an Egyptian man who admitted to hijacking a domestic EgyptAir flight and diverting it to the east Mediterranean island nation by threatening to blow it up with a fake explosives belt.

Police prosecutor Andreas Lambrianou said Wednesday that the suspect, whom authorities had earlier identified as 59-year-old Seif Eddin Mustafa, faces charges including hijacking, illegal possession of explosives, kidnapping and threats to commit violence.

Tuesday's dramatic hijacking ended peacefully when police arrested the suspect after all 72 passengers and crew aboard the Airbus A320 aircraft were released.

A man climbs out of the cockpit window of the hijacked Egyptair Airbus A320 at Larnaca Airport in Larnaca

A man climbs out of the cockpit window of the hijacked Egyptair Airbus A320 at Larnaca Airport in Larnaca, Cyprus, March 29, 2016.

REUTERS

Lambrianou said that the suspect told police: "What's someone supposed to do when he hasn't seen his wife and children in 24 years and the Egyptian government won't let him?"

Officials said early on that the hijacking was not an act of terrorism, and later that the man appeared to be psychologically unstable. However, the incident was likely to renew concerns about Egyptian airport security months after a Russian passenger plane was downed over the Sinai Peninsula in a bombing claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS.)

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The man (C) who was arrested after he hijacked an EgyptAir flight, which was forced to land in Cyprus, is transferred by Cypriot police as they leave a court in the city of Larnaca, Cyprus March 30, 2016.

REUTERS

"From the start, it was clear that this wasn't an act of terrorism, and despite the fact that the individual appeared to be dangerous in terms of his behavior, we understood that this was a psychologically unstable person," Cyprus' Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides told reporters.

He said the man initially asked to speak with his Cypriot ex-wife, who police brought to the airport.

"After that, he started asking for European Union representatives to assure him about matters that had no logical basis," Kasoulides said.