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3 Charged in Hijacking of Russian Plane

September 17, 1993|Associated Press

OSLO — Three men believed to be Iranians were charged with hijacking Thursday after they used grenades and other explosives to commandeer a Russian airliner and force it to fly to Norway.

All 58 passengers and crew on board the Aeroflot Tupolev 134 were released unhurt when the suspects surrendered and requested political asylum.

A fourth man, a Russian detained as a possible accomplice because he helped the three suspects communicate with the other passengers, was released.

If convicted in Norway of hijacking, the three suspects could face up to 21 years in prison, the Norwegian news agency NTB reported.

The three men said they were Iranians and "started this to protest conditions in Iran," regional police chief Knut Austad said at a news conference.

A Justice Ministry official said the suspects' story was being checked and their identities had not been confirmed. The official said it would take several weeks to process the asylum requests.

Justice Minister Grete Faremo said there was no sign the hijacking was related to Middle East issues, or to Norway's role in arranging an historic agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

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