Spanish Court Clears British-Indian Student Accused of Plane Bomb Joke
Aditya Verma, a British-Indian student pursuing economics at Bath University, has been acquitted by a Spanish court after facing charges of public disorder due to a jest he made about detonating a plane while traveling with friends.
In July 2022, en route to Menorca, Verma posted a light-hearted message on Snapchat, humorously claiming to be a member of the Taliban and jokingly stating, "On my way to blow up the plane." This message was sent before his departure from Gatwick airport.
Following a trial held at the National Court in Madrid, the judge's verdict was that no concrete evidence of explosives or a credible threat was found. The message had been detected by UK security services on Gatwick's Wi-Fi network, prompting Spanish authorities to scramble two fighter jets to accompany Verma's flight.
However, Gatwick Airport denied having the capability to monitor such messages on its Wi-Fi network, and Snapchat, an encrypted app, declined to comment on the case.
The judge's decision noted that, for reasons unknown, the message had been intercepted by English security systems while the plane was flying over French airspace.
At the time of the incident, Verma was 18 years old and was detained for two days. Upon his return to the UK, he was questioned by British intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6. Had he been found guilty, Verma could have faced fines of up to 22,500 euros and expenses totaling 95,000 euros.
Verma consistently maintained that the message was a private jest meant to amuse his friends and was never intended to cause public harm or distress.