18-year-old British tourist faces more than 22 thousand euros fine for joking about an airplane: what happened and what does the war in Ukraine have to do with it
A British student Aditya Verma, who made a bad joke in July 2022, was tried in Spain. His message had a clear hint of a terrorist attack, and although he did not want to harm anyone, he had to testify for his statements.
This embarrassment happened when the student and his friends were flying to the island of Menorca in Spain. The BBC reports that, immediately after receiving an alert about a possible terrorist attack, Spanish F-18 fighter jets took off toward the plane. While the guy thought that the reason for the F-18's takeoff was pilot training due to Russia's terrorist attack on Ukraine.
Before Aditya landed in London, he posted a comment on Snapchat using the airport's WiFi network: "On my way to blow up the plane (I'm a member of the Taliban)." Verma claimed that he sent the message in a private conversation with friends, and that the joke was offensive because of Aditya's skin color.
But despite his defense, the young man, who was 18 at the time, was arrested. He spent two days in a detention center, and then was released on bail.
"I never thought about scaring people on that flight because the Snapchat group was private and the message was not supposed to reach anyone," Verma explained.
When he saw the fighter jet next to the plane, he thought it was related to Russia's attack on Ukraine. "The Russian-Ukrainian war was going on, so I thought it was a military exercise related to this conflict," the young man told the court.
He also recalled that the pilot of the plane made an announcement, telling the passengers that the fighter jets were raised because of a signal that was sent by mistake. So he had no idea what had caused the alarm.
Upon his return to the UK, he was interrogated by British intelligence services. The court does not plan to charge him with terrorism or imprison him. The tourist only faces a fine of 22.5 thousand euros, and the Spanish Ministry of Defense is demanding 95,000 euros in damages for the false alarm.
Earlier, OBOZ.UA wrote that a group of Russians was detained in the popular resort of Phuket in Thailand, where they were playing poker with locals. This gambling business is illegal in the country.