The man who hijacked an Ethiopian Airlines flight en route to Rome on Monday was the co-pilot, according to the Geneva airport where the plane was forced to land.
The co-pilot said he had seized his chance when the pilot went to the bathroom, Bertrand Staempfli, the airport spokesman, told reporters.
"He said he felt threatened in his country and wants to seek asylum in Switzerland," he said.
Police stand on the stairs after passengers were evacuated from a hijacked Ethiopian Airlines Plane on the airport in Geneva, Switzerland. AP
In an apparent recording of a radio communication between the aircraft and air traffic control posted on the social media site Twitter, a demand for asylum was made.
Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the recording and it was not immediately clear whether it was a hijacker or pilot speaking from the plane.
"We need asylum or assurance we will not be transferred to the Ethiopian government," the voice in the recording said, posted by Twitter user @MatthewKeysLive.