The teenager said the joke was made in the context of repeated comments in the private chat about his features and the color of his skin
A Spanish judge today acquitted a 19-year-old British man of all charges brought against him for a joke that he had made and shared in a private online chat with five of his friends before boarding a flight in 2022, joking that as a member of the Taliban will bomb the plane, which resulted in a fighter jet taking off to escort the plane.
Aditya Verma, who was 18 at the time, shared a photo in a closed group online chat with six of his friends, with the message saying: “On my way to blow up a plane, I’m a member of the Taliban” before boarding a flight to the resort island of Minorca at London’s Gatwick Airport, the young man told the court.
Indian-born Verma said the joke was made in the context of repeated comments in the private chat about his features and the color of his skin.
The message was somehow intercepted by British security services who alerted the Spanish Air Force, which in turn ordered a Eurofighter to take off to escort the plane.
No explosives or weapons were foundbut Verma was arrested upon landing and spent the night in jail, police said at the time.
Judge Jose Manuel Prieto ruled the comments did not constitute a criminal offense as they were made in “a strictly private environment” and Verma could not have suspected the message was to be intercepted.
The trial did not make clear how British agencies managed to access Verma’s private messages, the judge said. He felt that one of the other members involved in the conversation could have alerted the police, and if they did, then that other member should have been charged, not Verma.
Prosecutors had requested that Verma be fined 22,500 euros and pay 94,800 euros in compensation to the Spanish defense ministry for the cost of developing the fighter jet.
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