Feb 17, 2014 7:37 PM by Connie Murphy

Co-Pilot Arrested After Ethiopian Airlines Jet Hijacked

GENEVA (AP) - One passenger says he was terrified "for hours" after the co-pilot of an Ethiopian Airlines jetliner locked the pilot out of the cockpit, commandeered the plane and headed for Geneva, where he asked for political asylum.

Passengers said it seemed like a routine overnight flight to Rome, until the jetliner went into a dive and oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling. A passenger says the hijacker threatened to crash the plane if the pilot didn't stop pounding on the locked door, trying to get back into the cockpit.

The plane was carrying 200 people, including seven crew members. Eleven Americans were among the passengers.

The co-pilot was taken into custody in Geneva, after leaving the cockpit through the window, using a rope. Swiss authorities say the hijacker is more likely to get prison time than asylum.

It's not clear why he chose Switzerland over the plane's original destination of Italy. Swiss voters recently demanded curbs on immigration. But Italy has a reputation among many Africans as not being hospitable to asylum seekers.

Ethiopia says it will seek the extradition of the hijacker.


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