A man who allegedly commandeered a Turkish jetliner Tuesday by threatening to set off a bomb was detained after the plane landed in Ankara, but no explosives were found, authorities said.
Transport Minister Binali Yildirim said a passenger announced he had a bomb after the Pegasus airline Boeing 737 took off from Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey’s Kurdish-dominated southeast.
The man, identified as Mehmet Goksin Gol, 39, initially said he wanted the plane diverted to the capital, Ankara, but changed his mind and demanded it fly to Tehran, Iran, Yildirim said. But the pilots landed at Ankara and the man gave himself up about 40 minutes later.
Yildirim said the man did not make any political demands and the reason for the hijacking was still under investigation.
No injuries were reported among the 178 passengers and six crew members.
The government-run Anatolia news agency said that in 1994, the man was acquitted on charges of aiding and abetting a separatist Kurdish rebel group, the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. The agency also said the man had been charged for using and selling drugs in the past.
Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu said police were investigating possible links to the PKK, which has been fighting for autonomy in Turkey’s southeast since 1984.
Brother: Suspect depressed
The suspect’s brother, however, told Anatolia that the man had no links to any organization and was suffering from depression following the deaths of their father, sister and brother.
Some passengers said they were not aware that the plane was being hijacked until after it had landed in Ankara.
“We were being escorted by an F-16 jet and I thought there was some kind of a technical problem,” Emir Ali Celebi said.