Ethiopian Pilot Hijacks Plane, Requests Asylum in Switzerland

A flight from Addis Ababa to Rome takes a surprising turn

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Denis Balibouse / Reuters

Hijacked Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 702 at Cointrin airport in Geneva, on Feb. 17, 2014.

An Ethiopian Airlines pilot, desperate for asylum, locked his co-pilot out of the cockpit, hijacked the plane and took 202 passengers on a detour to Geneva.

BBC News reports that after landing the plane, the pilot threw a rope out of the cockpit window and climbed down into the hands of Swiss police. All passengers and crew were safely evacuated from the aircraft.

Police say the unarmed hijacker requested asylum out of fear of persecution back home. He could apparently face up to 20 years in prison for hostage-taking.