Unscheduled stop for Slovenia-London flight in Germany after suspicious conversation | News | DW | 11.06.2017
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Germany

Unscheduled stop for Slovenia-London flight in Germany after suspicious conversation

German police have released three British men whose conversation prompted an Easyjet pilot to make an emergency stop in Cologne. After examining their phones, authorities now believe "there was no actual threat."

Three British citizens, whose conversations on board an Easyjet flight prompted an unscheduled landing in Cologne, were released on Sunday after being detained and questioned for hours by German authorities.

EasyJet pilots landed a flight from the Slovenian capital Ljubljana at Cologne-Bonn airport at about 6:30 p.m. (1630 UTC) Saturday after crew members alerted them to suspicious conversations overheard by passengers.

German authorities questioned the men and examined their cell phones but found no evidence to indicate that they were planning an attack, Cologne police said in a statement.

"At the moment Cologne police believe there was no actual threat," the statement read.

Earlier, police told DW that three British nationals were detained in connection to reports that they engaged in discussions about "terrorist activities." The men - aged 31, 38 and 48 - were returning from a business trip in Slovenia.

According to police, a female passenger on the Saturday flight overheard a conversation in which the men discussed "terrorist content and alerted crew members. Authorities said they could not verify the content of the conversation, but they said that one of the men was carrying a book that had the word "kill" and a picture of a sniper on it.

Airport authorities said in a statement that the 151 passengers on board disembarked the plane using emergency slides and were taken to a transit gate where they were checked by police. Nine people received medical treatment after sustaining injuries during the evacuation.

DW's Rebecca Staudenmaier witnessed the remaining Easyjet passengers checking in to a London flight in the early afternoon at the Cologne-Bonn airport. It was still unclear, however, when the three detained men would travel on to London. 

'Precaution'

Police also destroyed a backpack using controlled explosives. The luggage reportedly belonged to the 48-year-old suspect and was destroyed after officials found suspicious cables inside. The cables turned out be various charging cords and adapters, authorities said.

Easyjet confirmed "the decision was taken as a precaution to allow the aircraft to go through additional security checks in Cologne where the aircraft" was met by the police.

Take-offs and landings were suspended for three hours at the airport in Cologne, causing 10 flights to be diverted to other airports and delays to over a dozen more.

rs, av/rc (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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