Chess-playing economics genius arrested over EasyJet bomb hoax says sorry for ‘moment of madness’

Chess-playing economics genius arrested over EasyJet bomb hoax says sorry for 'moment of madness' 2
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A chess playing economics genius arrested over a bomb hoax on a packed EasyJet flight which saw fighter jets scrambled to intercept it is now back home and exclusively told the MailOnline of his ‘moment of madness’.

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Super bright Aditya Verma, 18, was held after he sent friends he was going on holiday with to the Spanish island of Menorca, a Snapchat saying: ‘I’m going to blow this plane up. I’m a Taliban.’

The message was picked up by their mobiles on Gatwick airport’s Wi-Fi servers and immediately triggered alarm bells with security because of the sensitive words used.

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Aditya was arrested after the plane touched down and quizzed by Spanish cops before appearing in court and was kept in a police cell for two days before being released late last Friday.

He was released on a bail of £8,600 before being told by the Spanish authorities that he was free to leave the country.

Super bright Aditya Verma (pictured with his mother Dipti and father Anand Prasad), 18, was held after he sent friends he was going on holiday with to the Spanish island of Menorca, a Snapchat saying: 'I'm going to blow this plane up. I'm a Taliban'

Super bright Aditya Verma (pictured with his mother Dipti and father Anand Prasad), 18, was held after he sent friends he was going on holiday with to the Spanish island of Menorca, a Snapchat saying: ‘I’m going to blow this plane up. I’m a Taliban’

Two Spanish airforce F18s were scrambled from Zaragoza military base to meet the plane midair at a cost of £86,000

Two Spanish airforce F18s were scrambled from Zaragoza military base to meet the plane midair at a cost of £86,000

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Aditya was arrested after the plane touched down and quizzed by Spanish cops before appearing in court and was kept in a police cell for two days before being released late last Friday (Pictured: Aditya on his way to court last week, July 5)

Aditya was arrested after the plane touched down and quizzed by Spanish cops before appearing in court and was kept in a police cell for two days before being released late last Friday (Pictured: Aditya on his way to court last week, July 5)

Now back home in Orpington, Kent, with his relieved parents Anand and Dipti Prasad, he exclusively told MailOnline: ‘It was a moment of madness which I regret and I’m so sorry for the trouble I caused. It was a joke and I didn’t mean anything by it.

‘I’m sorry for ruining my friends holiday’ but it was all just a joke and I didn’t mean to scare anyone on the plane if they were frightened by what happened.

‘I sent the Snapchat message to my friends as we were boarding, it was a joke as we had been saying who was going to be stopped and searched by the security.

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‘The message said: “I’m going to blow this plane up. I’m a Taliban,” and now I just wish I hadn’t sent it. 

‘It was a stupid thing to do but I thought as it was a private Snapchat just my friends would see it.

‘But I was using the data on my phone and they were using the Wi-Fi at Gatwick and so the message was picked up by the security people.’

He and his fellow sixth form pals from the prestigious grammar school St Olave’s were taken to one side after the plane landed at Menorca, asked to identify their luggage before being taken away to a local police station.

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Aditya (pictured above as a child) said: 'I have offers from two good universities and I really want to go, my old school say they will back me and reassure both places that I am not a terrorist and I am a sensible person. I won't be doing anything silly again, I've learned my lesson'

Aditya (pictured above as a child) said: ‘I have offers from two good universities and I really want to go, my old school say they will back me and reassure both places that I am not a terrorist and I am a sensible person. I won’t be doing anything silly again, I’ve learned my lesson’

Security staff at Gatwick had cross referenced passenger lists and once they spotted Aditya’s name on the flight to Menorca on July 3, alerted French and Spanish authorities to the potential threat as the easyJet flight had already taken off.

Two Spanish airforce F18s were scrambled from Zaragoza military base to meet the plane midair at a cost of £86,000, and dramatic video footage taken onboard shows the fighter ‘wiggling’ its wings to the easyJet pilot – an aviation rule for ‘follow me’.

The flight eventually touched own safely at Menorca and taxied to a secluded part pf the airfield where sniffer dogs carried out extensive searches of the plane and passenger luggage.

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Aditya said: ‘When I heard there was a fighter jet escorting us I just immediately had the feeling it was something to do with the message I had sent, I could tell I had made a big mistake.

‘Everyone was looking at pointing out of the window and the captain came on the loudspeaker and said he was trying to find out why the fighter was there and there was nothing to worry about.

‘I just felt this overwhelming sense of dread and when we landed and allowed to get off the police went straight for me and my friends, they obviously knew who to look for.

‘I said it had all been a joke and that I hadn’t meant anything by it and they let my friends go but I was taken to the police station where after a few hours I was allowed to call mum and say I had been held at the police station.’

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NHS worker Ms Prasad said: ‘Myself and the other parents of the boys on the holiday were on a WhatsApp group and they had sent a message saying they had landed and then one of them sent a picture of the fighter jet next to them in the air.

Aditya has represented England at several international chess tournaments and once met legendary player Gary Kasparov

Aditya has represented England at several international chess tournaments and once met legendary player Gary Kasparov

Aditya (pictued when he was younger) is predicted to get double A star and an A in his Economics, History and Maths A levels

Aditya (pictued when he was younger) is predicted to get double A star and an A in his Economics, History and Maths A levels

‘I said I hope everything was ok and that they should let us know when they were at the hotel but after a few hours when we hadn’t heard anything, I started to get a little worried and it was 8pm that night when he called and told me what had happened.

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‘I told him to be strong and that it would be all sorted and then like any other mother would have done I got the next flight to Menorca at 6am the following day and by 10am I was at the police station but they wouldn’t let me see him.

‘I begged and pleaded and in the end they let me see him on a video screen and I said I was there and I would try and sort everything out for him.’

Dipti, who had left husband Anand at home with their other son, 13, was initially told her son would appear in court last Monday but the hearing didn’t go ahead until the next day and so she frantically searched for a lawyer.

She said:’ There was a woman who was also at the court and she was representing a French boy who was in the same cell as Aditya, she looked very kind and I asked if she could speak English and if she would help me.

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‘She agreed to speak for us in court the next day and she did a fantastic job, she explained how it was a just a joke and a misunderstanding and everything had been blown out of proportion.

‘They set bail for 10,000 Euro and said he could go free but he mustn’t leave the island so we stayed at the hotel where he was originally supposed to be on holiday with his friends.’

Aditya is seen above with his parents and brother. The family are hoping to get the €10,000 bail back from Spanish police

Aditya is seen above with his parents and brother. The family are hoping to get the €10,000 bail back from Spanish police

IT bank worker Anand said: ‘When my wife told me they were originally looking for €100,000 bail I almost had a heart attack, I thought I would have to mortgage the house to get the money but then she called and said it was €10,000 and I was about to get a loan but friends have helped us out with the money.

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‘Everyone was really supportive and kind, the neighbours offered to cook me dinner as they knew that Dipti was in Spain with Aditya and they know he is not a bad boy, he is really hard working and conscientious and this was just one of those silly, stupid things children do but he has learned his lesson now.’

On Friday lawyer Marga Quintana Subirats was able to secure Aditya’s release and he was allowed to fly home with his mother – bizarrely on the same flight he should have caught home with his pals after his holiday.

When he landed he was taken aside by police and officials from MI6 and MI5 who questioned him for two hours before allowing him to finally return to his home in Kent early on Saturday morning.

Aditya – who has represented England at several international chess tournaments and once met legendary player Gary Kasparov – said: ‘I understand why they stopped me, they have to check and they were asking me questions about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and what I thought about Boris Johnson resigning and the situation in the Ukraine.

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‘They said they had to make sure I wasn’t a security threat and that I wasn’t a danger to anyone but I just said the whole thing was a joke which I regretted and I wouldn’t be doing it again – when I left my brother was outside and one of the officers had a joke with him and said “I hope you don’t use Snapchat.”

Aditya, who is predicted to get double A star and an A in his Economics, History and Maths A levels, hopes to study Economics at university but would not reveal which one other than to say it wasn’t ‘Oxford or Cambridge’.

He said: ‘I have offers from two good universities and I really want to go, my old school say they will back me and reassure both places that I am not a terrorist and I am a sensible person. I won’t be doing anything silly again, I’ve learned my lesson.

‘What I will be doing next is probably trying to find a job to help pay back the €10,000 bail if the Spanish authorities decide they will keep kit but we are hoping our lawyer can convince them to return it.’

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Aditya (left) is seen above with his parents and brother. He hopes to study Economics at university

Aditya (left) is seen above with his parents and brother. He hopes to study Economics at university

Authorities in Spain are expected to decide in the next few weeks whether to proceed with the case, drop it or send it back to the UK as the offence technically took place at Gatwick.

Ms Subirats told MailOnline: ‘The investigation is still ongoing in Spain as he was held on the allegation of falsely causing an alarm which carries a penalty of up to 18 months in jail. 

‘In theory the Spanish authorities could in theory ask for the £86,000 back for the cost of sending the fighter planes to intercept but given his age and that he is a student it is unlikely.

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‘I just hope that it doesn’t affect his future prospects at university or for work because he is a very polite and well educated boy, it was just a joke and one of those things teenagers do but I’m sure he will not do anything like it again. 

‘It also shows just how good the security operation is and how we are all being watched and listened to even if we don’t think we are.’

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