“I am a Christian and don’t want to serve a Muslim army,” one of the Turkish hijackers wrote to Pope Benedict. Now it appears they are seeking asylum. This is, of course, completely contrary to previous reports from AP and others that the hijacking was fueled by Pope Rage. “Passengers safe as hijacking ends,” from CNN:
BRINDISI, Italy (CNN) — A hijacking episode that began over Greek airspace has ended in Italy with all 113 people aboard released and both unarmed Turkish hijackers in the custody of Italian aviation authorities, Italian officials said.
Earlier reports on Tuesday that the hijackers were protesting Pope Benedict XVI’s planned visit to Turkey were apparently incorrect; authorities now say that the hijackers have requested political asylum.
Turkish officials said one of the hijackers, identified as Hasan Ekinci, wrote a letter to the pope in August asking for help in avoiding service in the Turkish army.
“I am a Christian and don’t want to serve a Muslim army,” he wrote, adding that he had been attending church since 1998….
Albanian member of parliament Sabri Abazi, spoke to ANSA news agency by telephone from the hijacked airline. “They haven’t heard us talking,” he said, according to Reuters.
Abazi said there was one hijacker in the cockpit and another in the cabin. “Up to now we have seen no weapons or use of violence.”