A BRIT teenager reportedly joked on Snapchat “I’m a Taliban” and claimed he was going to blow up the plane he was traveling in.
Aditya Verma, 18, is said to have sparked a huge security response, including a fighter jet escort and anti-terrorist police, following the reported scam aboard the easyJet flight to the Spanish island of Menorca.
The teenager faces a criminal conviction and a hefty fine over the alleged prank committed while traveling to the holiday hotspot with friends on Sunday.
Verma flew to the island with five friends on vacation to celebrate her graduation.
The Indian-born chess prodigy was offered a place at Cambridge University this autumn to study economics.
A top student at St. Olave’s Grammar School in Orpington, south-east London, he spent two nights in a prison cell in Menorca before being dragged into court by armed police in handcuffs.
He appeared in court in the Menorcan capital of Mahon on Tuesday morning wearing the same blue shorts and green shirt he was reportedly wearing on the easyJet flight.
He was released yesterday on bail of €10,000 but was banned from leaving Spain and ordered by Judge Belen Velazquez to report to court every two weeks.
He is believed to still be on the island after his mother flew in from the UK to be with him.
Speaking to local media outside court, his mother said: “It was a joke.”
He can be handed over to UK authorities if the Spanish court rules that the alleged crime took place in the UK under international aviation law.
Police sources claimed on Wednesday that Verma posted on Snapchat, “I’m going to blow up this plane, I’m a Taliban.”
The teenager reportedly told the judge yesterday that he is often called “Taliban” by his friends because of his dark complexion and Asian heritage.
If found guilty, he faces a fine of over £100,000.
The judge is to refer the case to the Spanish national court in Madrid because it is a matter of national security.
Authorities sounded the alarm when easyJet flight EZY8303 landed just before 5pm local time on Sunday.
A Spanish F-18 fighter jet was filmed escorting the passenger plane to its landing – which was half an hour later than scheduled.
Angry passengers were reportedly held on the tarmac for four hours while the bomb alert was investigated.
The disruption is believed to have caused a Ryanair flight to depart for London two and a half hours late.
It was a joke
Aditya Verma’s mother
As well as the estimated £86,000 cost of shipping two F-18 fighter jets from a military base in Zaragoza, northern Spain, to escort the easyJet flight to Menorca after the alarm went off, the teenager will also have to pay the cost of the huge take over police action in case of conviction.
Bomb disposal experts and sniffer dogs were recruited as part of the response after the plane landed and were moved to an area away from the main part of the airport so it could be inspected before it was declared safe.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that Scotland Yard and French police picked up the Snapchat instant messaging app’s bomb alert and informed Spanish police officers.
The Spanish Guardia Civil has not yet commented on this claim.
A spokesman for the Guardia Civil said on Monday: “The Guardia Civil has arrested an 18-year-old British national as an alleged perpetrator of a public order offense in Mahon, Menorca.
“On Sunday, Menorca airport control tower was informed of a bomb threat on a plane en route from London to the island’s capital, Mahon, which was still in the air and approaching the airport.
“The threat is said to have been sent via a social media platform.”
https://www.the-sun.com/news/5713677/easyjet-bomb-scare-menorca-spain-cambridge-university/ The British chess prodigy, 18, posted “I’m going to blow up this plane” on Snapchat on board an easyJet flight to scare a prankster