NICOSIA, Cyprus — The Egyptian man who said he hijacked an EgyptAir passenger plane because he was desperate to see his former wife and children in Cyprus, was “dangerous and unpredictable” and used to beat and threaten his family, Marina Paraschos, the former wife, told two Cypriot newspapers published Thursday.
Paraschos, 51, said that she had hardly been in touch with her husband, Seif Eldin Mustafa, since they divorced 25 years ago, and that their three children wanted nothing to do with their father.
A fourth child, a daughter named Sofia, died in a car accident in 2002 at the age of 17. Paraschos said Mustafa had been indifferent to his daughter’s death and had not attended the funeral.
As the hijacking unfolded Tuesday, the revelations that Mustafa was asking to contact Paraschos, among other demands, eased fears of a terrorist attack. The president of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, even joked about Mustafa’s motives: “Always, there is a woman.”
The woman at the center of this episode, Paraschos, said that Mustafa’s hijacking of the plane — he wore a fake explosive belt — was not part of a “love story.” Rather, it was an opportunistic act by Mustafa, who had only offered his family “pain, horror and misery,” she said.
“The man used my name as an excuse to come to Cyprus and seek asylum,” she said in an interview with the Cypriot daily Politis. “Why did he remember us now?”
Paraschos said she had not talk to Mustafa at the airport; Cypriot officials initially said she had helped negotiate an end to the crisis. Paraschos only helped authorities identify his voice, she said.
She and Mustafa were married in 1985, and divorced five years later, she said, telling the daily Phileleftheros newspaper that the divorce was like “liberation.” She said that Mustafa had used drugs and that when he did not have enough money to buy them, he used to beat her and the children.
Mustafa is in custody in Cyprus and could not respond to the accusations. Egyptian authorities have said Mustafa has a long criminal history in Egypt and that they are seeking his extradition from Cyprus.
In Cairo, officials offered further details about Mustafa’s history with Egyptian law enforcement.
Maj. Gen. Abu Bakr Abdel Karim, an interior ministry spokesman, said that Mustafa was convicted and imprisoned on charges of fraud and forgery in late 2010, only to escape months later during the tumult around the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Mustafa turned himself into the police in 2014 to serve the remainder of his sentence, He was released in 2015 and was later sought by the police for questioning in relation to other instances of theft, fraud and forgery. He was considered an absconder at the time of the plane hijacking, Abdel Karim said.
A Cypriot government spokesman, Nicos Christodoulides, told The Guardian that Mustafa had been deported from Cyprus on three occasions on charges of harassing Paraschos. At least one of those times, he entered Cyprus using a fake passport, Christodoulides said.
Paraschos also said that Mustafa served time in jail in Damascus, Syria.
She has since remarried, and had another child, she said. Mustafa’s startling act, she said, has “managed to upset our lives once more.”
“We demand that he respect our family, our privacy and our lives,” she said.