Egypt requests EgyptAir hijacker be extradited from Cyprus

Ahmed Abbas
3 Min Read
EgyptAir hijacker

Prosecutor General Nabil Sadek requested on Wednesday that Cypriot authorities extradite the hijacker of EgyptAir Flight MS181 to Egyptian authorities.

The top prosecutor’s request referred to bilateral and international agreements on the extradition of criminals, according to the prosecutor’s statement.

The Cypriot police announced earlier on Wednesday that the hijacker the EgyptAir plane will be remanded in custody for eight days pending investigations.

Seif Eddin Mostafa, 59, was arrested on Tuesday after he surrendered following a hostage situation that lasted for more than seven hours.

Mostafa had rerouted a plane that was heading from Alexandria to Cairo, forcing it to land at Larnaca International Airport. All passengers on the plane were safely freed after Cypriot authorities and the plane’s crew convinced Mostafa to stand down.

According to Egypt’s Ministry of Interior, Mostafa had a “criminal record with several crimes of forgery, impersonation, burglary, and drug dealing”.

The ministry further claimed that Mostafa was sentenced to one year in prison for forgery. He escaped during the 25 January Revolution.

Mostafa appeared on Wednesday morning before the Larnaca district court, which decided to hold him in remand for eight days.

The 59-year-old Egyptian said he hijacked the plane because he wanted to see his family, according to a Larnaca police statement.

“When someone hasn’t seen his family for 24 years and wants to see his wife and children and the Egyptian government does not allow him to, what should he do?” Mostafa told police.

The Cypriot police accused Mostafa of hijacking a plane and kidnapping the passengers and crew onboard, which are violations of terrorism and civil aviation law. However, formal charges will not be made until after a second hearing.

Cyprus authorities said earlier that the incident had “nothing to do with terrorism”.

The Cypriot police requested to keep him in custody so that his testimonies are not influenced by others. Cypriot authorities did not find any explosives in his belt. However, they sent the belt to be examined in a lab, the Cyprus Mail reported.

Mostafa is believed to have a Cypriot ex-wife named Marina, to which he reportedly asked one of the crew to deliver a letter in Arabic. He also allegedly asked to meet an EU representative about female prisoners in Egypt. “His demands were neither logical nor coherent,” said Cypriot foreign affairs minister Ioannis Kasoulides.

According to Kasoulides, Mostafa realised that his demands could not be fulfilled, which led to him surrendering and releasing the hostages.

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Ahmed Abbas is a journalist at DNE’s politics section. He previously worked as Egypt based reporter for, and interned as a broadcast journalist at Deutsche Welle TV in Berlin. Abbas is a fellow of Salzburg Academy of Media and Global Change. He holds a Master’s Degree of Journalism and New Media from Jordan Media Institute. He was awarded by the ICFJ for best public service reporting in 2013, and by the German foreign office for best feature in 2014.
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