Aditya Verma, a former British chess grandmaster, could face a heavy fine after making inflammatory comments about the explosion of an overcrowded Easyjet plane. At the age of 18, Verma had jokingly sent a message saying “I’m going to blow up a plane”. I am a member of the Taliban,” in a private Snapchat group before boarding an Easyjet flight to Menorca in July 2022. The message sparked a series of events, including the dispatch of Spanish military planes and arrests upon arrival. This prompted Verma to complete his exams at St Olav’s High School in Kent and go on vacation. Despite the seriousness of the situation, the Spanish authorities have explained that they are not pursuing the young man in prison.
According to the BBC, Verma told the Madrid court: “The intention was not to cause trouble or harm society. The boy, who is currently studying economics at the University of Bath, said that The message was sent as “a joke and a secret.” It was only sent to my friends while I was traveling with them that day. When the court asked him why he sent such a message, Verma replied, “Since school, it was a joke because of my plan . It’s just to make people laugh. In addition, when asked about his reaction to the military aircraft carrying the aircraft, Verma initially thought that it was a military exercise related to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. According to him, the pilot then spoke to the passengers and made it clear that the military plane was flying because of the distress signal sent in error.
Reports suggest that British security services found Aditya Verma’s message, which led them to alert the Spanish authorities while the Easyjet plane was flying. The message sparked concern when it was picked up from London Gatwick Airport’s Wi-Fi network. In response, two Spanish F-18 fighter jets were dispatched, one of which tracked the passenger plane until it landed safely in Menorca, where Verma was arrested and spent two days in detention. Police before being released on bail. When he returned to the United Kingdom, he was questioned by British intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6.
Speaking about the incident, Verma told the Daily Mail: “It was a stupid moment and I regret it and I’m really sorry for the trouble I caused. It’s a joke and I mean nothing. I’m sorry for ruining my friends’ vacation, but it’s just a joke, and I don’t want to scare anyone on the plane if something happens that scares them. I sent a Snapchat message to my friends as we walked in. It’s funny because we’re talking about who the guards will stop and search. Now I wish I hadn’t sent it. It was a stupid thing to do, but I figured since it’s a private Snapchat, only my friends would see it.
In court, the police revealed that they searched Verma’s phone and found information about the conflict between Pakistan and India, as well as information about Islamic State attacks in the region. However, no evidence linking Verma to terrorism was found. Verma is not currently facing any terrorism charges or jail time. If convicted, he faces a fine of up to €22,500 (roughly Rs 20 Lakh). In addition, the security forces in Spain are seeking €95,000 (roughly Rs 85 Lakh) for expenses related to the incident.