Egypt’s foreign affairs ministry has labelled the EgyptAir hijacker “an idiot” for holding innocent people hostage over a woman.
According to updated reports, a man who wanted to deliver a message to his ex-wife was responsible for hijacking an Egyptian airliner on Tuesday and diverted it to Cyprus where the ex-wife lives.
The Cypriot foreign ministry named the hijacker as Seif Eldin Mustafa , after Egyptian media published a photo of him on the plane.
Mustafa hijacked the plane with 81 passengers on board and seven crew.
He threatened to blow up the jet with a suicide belt in order to have it redirected to Cyprus.
Egyptian officials confirmed that the man is an Egyptian national.
They added that there are still seven people on board the jet, including three passengers.
Egypt’s civil aviation minister Sherif Fathy told the press conference that the captain, an assistant, an air hostess and a security man remained on board, along with the three passengers.
Cypriot state media reported that the hijacker had demanded asylum in Cyprus via a translator and had asked to deliver a letter to his ex-wife who lives on the island.
Shortly after, state media reported that the woman was on her way to the airport to speak her ex-husband. Cypriot authorities hope she can talk some sense into her former husband.
However, the Reuters news agency is also reporting that the hijacker was asking for the release of an unspecified number of unidentified female prisoners in Egypt.
A spokesperon for Egypt’s foreign ministry dismissed any links to terrorism in the incident, calling the hijacker “an idiot”.
” He’s not a terrorist, he’s an idiot. Terrorists are crazy but they aren’t stupid. This guy is ,” they said, according to the Guardian, although the foreign ministry later denied making the comments.
Officials in Cairo said that despite this, they were treating the incident as though the man has explosives as earlier threatened.
Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades said terrorism was not part of the hijacking and added: “It’s all to do with a woman. We are doing everything to release the hostages.”
The hijacker’s ex-wife was brought to the airport from her home village of Oroklini.