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Indian-Origin Student on Trial in Spanish Court For Joke About Blowing Up Flight

Once he returned to the UK, he was questioned by the British intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6.

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A joke by an Indian-origin British student has become very expensive for him. The student Aditya Verma, has appeared in the Spanish court after making the joke, "On my way to blow up the plane (I'm a member of the Taliban)." He has been accused of causing public disorder.

Verma shared the joke on Snapchat while travelling to Menorca with friends in 2022. Verma, who was 18 at the time, was arrested and spent two days in police custody before being released on bail.

Once he returned to the UK, he was first questioned by the British intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6, and only after that was he allowed to head back to his home in Orpington, Kent.

The UK authorities traced the message through Gatwick's Wi-Fi. They then immediately informed their Spanish counterparts while the flight was airborne. The Spanish Air Force deployed two F-18 jets, escorting the plane until its safe landing in Menorca.

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According to media reports, Verma told a Madrid court on 22 January, "The intention was never to cause public distress or cause public harm."

Verma an Economics student studying at Bath University - said in the court that the message was "a joke in a private group setting".

"It was just sent to my friends I was travelling with on the day," he said.

Explaining why he sent that message, Verma said, "Since school, it's been a joke because of my features... It was just to make people laugh."

Verma is not facing terrorism charges or the prospect of imprisonment, he may be subjected to a fine of up to 22,500 Euros (Rs 20,35,145) if proven guilty. The Spanish defence ministry also seeks reimbursement of 95,000 Euros (Rs 85,92,835) in expenses, as reported in NDTV World.

What Did The Police Say?

Police told the court that they combed Verma's phone and, although they found that he had researched clashes between Pakistan and India and the possibilities of an Islamic State attack in that area, they did not find anything of interest that linked Mr Verma to jihadist radicalism, BBC reported.

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