STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - A Pakistan International Airlines plane was diverted to Sweden on Saturday after a bomb threat, but no explosives were found on board or in possession of a Canadian man detained by police and later set free.
The alert began after a woman in Canada called the police from a payphone to say a man on board had explosives on him.
The Boeing 777 with 273 people on board was diverted to Sweden while en route from Toronto to Karachi.
A Canadian man of Pakistani origin, in his ‘30s but whose identity was not made public, was detained after the plane landed as the passengers were evacuated. After being questioned, he was set free.
“The suspicions against the man were not sufficiently strong for an arrest order and he is therefore free to leave Sweden,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
Police earlier said they had found no explosives on the man or the plane, which departed again before he was set free.
Stockholm district police spokesman Ulf Lindgren said the man would get help with the practical details of how to reach his planned destination.
The Swedish police have declined to say whether they view the incident as a hoax, saying only that they had had to take it seriously. In Canada, a spokeswoman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said investigations were continuing.
“If it’s judged to be a hoax, the person who called can be charged with public mischief,” said Sergeant Juli Gagnon. She had no information on the identity of the caller.
Janne Hedlun, another spokesman for Stockholm district police, was quoted by Aftonbladet newspaper as saying the man “had no idea” about why the incident happened.
The plane departed for Manchester in England for a change of crew and then to resume its flight to Pakistan.
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) spokesman Syed Sultan Hassan said the plane had 255 passengers on board, including 102 Canadian nationals and 139 Pakistani nationals.
The plane was diverted to Arlanda after Canadian police told the pilot of the threat while the plane was in Swedish airspace.
A spokesman for Arlanda airport said the plane had departed from Toronto. Toronto airport’s website showed the destination of that flight — PK782 — was Karachi.
After the plane landed, armed police took position near it to seize the man when the passengers began to disembark to waiting buses. Police said the detention took place calmly.
Writing by Patrick Lannin; Additional reporting by Faisal Aziz in Karachi and Frank McGurty in Canada; Editing by Michael Roddy