A passenger who caused fighter jets to flank an airliner after he privately joked about blowing up the plane was cleared and avoided a $120,000 bill


Spanish F-18 jet fighter escorts Easyjet plane after teen bomb hoax

A Spanish F-18 fighter jet escorts an easyJet plane.Marcus Torr via REUTERS

  • A Spanish judge cleared Aditya Verma of a public-disorder charge on Thursday.

  • He had joked about blowing up a plane and faced paying $120,000 after fighter jets were scrambled.

  • But the judge said Verma “could not even remotely assume” his Snapchat message would cause such drama.

An airline passenger who caused made a joke about bombing the flight he was on, leading fighter jets to be scrambled, has been cleared of a potential $120,000 bill, the BBC reported.

Aditya Verma was 18 when he traveled from London to Spain for a vacation with his friends in 2022. The court heard that before boarding the easyJet airliner, he sent a Snapchat message: “On my way to blow up the plane (I’m a member of the Taliban).”

British security services flagged the message to Spanish authorities, who sent two F-18 jets to follow the plane until it landed. The plane was searched, but no evidence of any explosives were found.

Verma, who now studies economics at university, spent two days in jail before being released on bail. His trial started last Monday, for one charge of public disorder.

If he was found guilty, the Spanish Defence Ministry wanted around $103,000 for the cost of scrambling the fighter jets, while he also faced a possible fine of around $17,000.

But the judge cleared Verma on Thursday, noting that the joke was made “in a strictly private environment,” per the BBC.

“The accused could not even remotely assume… that the joke he played on his friends could be intercepted or detected by the British services, nor by third parties other than his friends who received the message,” the judge added.

One question left unanswered in the case was how the security services saw Verma’s Snapchat message.

It was previously thought the WiFi network at London Gatwick Airport could have intercepted it, but an airport spokesperson told the BBC it doesn’t have that capability.

According to Reuters, the judge suggested one of Verma’s friends in the Snapchat group could have told the police — but then that person would have to face the public-disorder charge.

Read the original article on Business Insider



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