Official: Egyptian's hijack crime scotched Cyprus asylum bid

A Cyprus Asylum Service official says an Egyptian hijacker fighting his extradition could have been granted asylum because of his declared opposition to Egypt's government, but the fact he committed such a serious offense wrecked his chances.

Seif Eddin Mustafa hijacked an EgyptAir passenger jet and diverted it to Cyprus in March. The six-hour hijacking ended peacefully and all 72 people aboard were released.

He had fought extradition to Egypt arguing that his opposition to Egypt's military-backed government could put his life at risk in his country.

The Cypriot asylum official, Pantelis Kazantzis, told a court Wednesday that Mustafa admitted to not having been persecuted for his political beliefs by the current Egyptian government since it came to power in 2014.

Mustafa's asylum claim denial is now under appeal.