LARNACA // A Briton pictured with the hijacker of an EgyptAir plane said he had managed to get a “selfie of a lifetime”, as social media erupted with reactions to the bizarre incident.
Ben Innes, 26, told The Sun newspaper he wanted to take a photograph while the hijacking unfolded at Larnaca airport in Cyprus.
“I figured if his bomb was real I’d nothing to lose anyway, so took a chance to get a closer look at it,” said Mr Innes, a health and safety auditor from Leeds.
“So I stood by him and smiled for the camera while a stewardess did the snap. It has to be the best selfie ever.”
The image showed Mr Innes grinning while standing next to the 58-year-old Egyptian hijacker, Seif Eldin Mostafa. He appeared to have been wearing a rudimentary suicide vest strapped to his chest.
Cypriot officials have said he concocted the fake vest out of mobile phone covers and wires.
Mostafa appeared in court on Wednesday accused of forcing the Alexandria-to-Cairo flight to divert to Cyprus, where he demanded to see his Cypriot ex-wife, with whom he has children.
He faced possible charges of hijacking, kidnapping people with the aim of taking them to an unknown destination, reckless and threatening behaviour and offences that breach antiterrorist laws.
As it became clear that the hijacking suspect was not a real danger, Egyptians also took to social media to poke fun at the incident, many using the Twitter hashtag #loveisintheair.
“This is what happens when you block your ex,” one person wrote on Twitter, while another said: “Some may wonder why the hijacker didn’t just email his wife. They don’t realise how terrible Egypt’s internet is.”
H A Hellyer, an Arab affairs specialist at the Royal United Services Institute in London, tweeted: “My wife just told me: ‘You don’t love me enough. You haven’t hijacked a plane to talk to me. Sort it out’”
After several hours in Larnaca, passengers on the flight were flown to Cairo on Tuesday.
Passenger Fayza Bakry said they had little contact with the hijacker.
“He didn’t talk to us, he was dealing with the pilot and the hostess, he didn’t talk to any passenger on the plane,” she said.