British hostage who posed for photo with plane hijacker returns to UK


A British hostage who posed for a photo with the Egyptian plane hijacker has arrived back in the UK.

Ben Innes, from Leeds, decided to take a picture with the bogus bomber despite the man apparently having explosives strapped to his waist.

Arriving at Manchester Airport he was filmed allegedly snatching the phone from the hands of an ITV camerawoman.

The 26-year-old health and safety auditor claims he threw "caution to the wind while trying to stay cheerful in the face of adversity".

"I figured if his bomb was real I'd nothing to lose anyway, so took a chance to get a closer look at it.

"I got one of the cabin crew to translate for me and asked him if I could do a selfie with him. He just shrugged OK so I stood by him and smiled for the camera while a stewardess did the snap. It has to be the best selfie ever," he told The Sun.

Mr Innes's mother had earlier expressed her relief at his safety and said the family was looking forward to having him home.

The hijacker, Seif Eddin Mustafa, 59, appeared in court in Cyprus on Wednesday to face a series of charges after sparking a dramatic stand-off on the tarmac at Larnaca airport.

After being arrested for threatening to blow up an EgyptAir flight, he asked police: "What's someone supposed to do when he hasn't seen his wife and children in 24 years?"

On Wednesday a picture of another hostage posing with Mustafa emerged. It appeared to show an air stewardess, named in reports as Naira Atef, smiling and standing next to him.

Four Britons were on the flight from Alexandria to Cairo on Tuesday when it was forced to divert to Cyprus due to a man wearing a fake suicide belt.

The Cypriot court ordered Mustafa to be detained for eight days as he faces charges including hijacking, illegal possession of explosives, kidnapping and threats to commit violence.

Handcuffed Mustafa flashed the "V'' for victory sign out of a police vehicle as he was driven away from the Larnaca courthouse after the hearing.

Police prosecutor Andreas Lambrianou said 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?"

Cypriot officials described him as "psychologically unstable" following a bizarre set of demands he made to police negotiators, including what Mr Lambrianou said was a letter he wanted delivered to his Cypriot ex-wife in which he demanded the release of 63 dissident women imprisoned in Egypt.

The prosecutor said Cypriot authorities will ask for Interpol's help to find out how the suspect managed to get the fake explosives belt through airport security in Egypt.

Tuesday's hostage drama ended peacefully when police arrested the suspect after all 72 passengers and crew on board the Airbus A320 aircraft were released.

Most of those on board were freed shortly after the plane landed at Larnaca airport on the Mediterranean island on Tuesday morning, but the hijacker held seven people hostage for a number of hours before the stand-off came to a conclusion.

The incident comes just five months after 224 people were killed when a Russian aircraft crashed over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula minutes after it took off from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Russia later said an explosive device brought down the aircraft in October, and the extremist Islamic State group said it was responsible.