Aditya Verma, an 18-year-old economics student, was recently acquitted in Spain after a Snapchat joke about blowing up the Taliban plane he was on landed him in hot water.
The incident occurred in July 2022, while Verma was on a trip to Menorca with friends. Before takeoff from Gatwick Airport, he sent a Snapchat message saying, “On my way to blow up the plane. I’m a member of the Taliban.”
This seemingly harmless joke backfired spectacularly. UK security services picked up the message and alerted Spanish authorities. Two Spanish fighter jets were scrambled to escort the plane, causing a major security scare.
Verma was arrested and detained for two days in Spain before being released on bail. He faced a hefty fine of up to €22,500 and an additional €95,000 to cover the cost of the fighter jet deployment if found guilty.
However, the court in Madrid ruled in Verma’s favor, finding that his message “did not constitute a real threat” and was intended as a joke among friends. The judge also noted Verma’s young age and lack of any prior criminal record.
This case highlights the potential dangers of online humor, especially when involving sensitive topics like terrorism. Even seemingly harmless jokes can have serious consequences, as Verma learned the hard way.