Egyptian authorities defended their security measures Tuesday evening as the passengers from an EgyptAir jet returned home after being diverted to Cyprus by a hijacker wearing a dummy explosive belt.

The Egyptian Interior Ministry issued video of the alleged hijacker, identified as Seif al-Din Mustafa, 57, passing through security checks at Alexandria's Borg al-Arab airport prior to boarding the Tuesday morning flight to Cairo.

Mustafa and his carry-on baggage had both been subject to full security checks, but he later assembled the fake bomb from permitted personal belongings in the bag, the ministry said.

Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kassoulidis earlier said the hijacker had connected several mobile phone covers with cables, which he passed off as an explosive belt.

"We were suspicious but wanted to play it safe," Kassoulidis told journalists at Larnaca airport after the man surrendered.

Mustafa released most of the passengers and crew not long after the plane landed but held seven as hostages before giving himself up hours later.

According to Cypriot state television, he initially demanded the release of detained female Egyptian opposition activists and requested asylum in Europe for himself.

He asked to speak with his Cypriot ex-wife, in a letter dropped out of an airplane window, which the Cypriot police subsequently translated from Arabic, the broadcaster said.

The airport surveillance video, which appeared to be partly cut, showed a person identified by a red circle undergoing a lengthy search, apparently at the entrance to the airport's check-in area, and being dealt with by two separate officers.

In Egyptian airports, that initial search is usually a quick frisk with more thorough checks carried out at the departure gate. The Interior Ministry did not say why Mustafa was apparently searched at length.

The video then showed Mustafa undergoing a quicker search at what appeared to be the departure gate. The ministry published what it said was the x-ray image of his carry-on bag.

Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy praised the crew of Flight 181, saying they had dealt with the situation professionally.

Speaking while the hostage situation was ongoing, Fathy had said that it was unclear whether the hijacker's explosive belt was real but for the sake of the passengers' safety it was necessary to act on the basis that it was genuine.

The Interior Ministry said Mustafa had a criminal record for forgery and was suspected in a number of fraud, theft and narcotics cases.

The flight's 55 passengers and 15 crew arrived back in Cairo airport on a special flight about 9:30 pm (1930 GMT). Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail was waiting to receive them.

The hijacked airliner was flown back separately by a fresh crew after technical and security checks, sources in the airport said.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi phoned Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to thank him for his country's efforts to resolve the hijacking.

The incident comes at a sensitive time for Cairo, which is seeking to persuade Russia to lift a flight ban imposed after a Russian jet returning from the Egyptian resort of Sharm al-Sheikh exploded, killing all 224 people on board.

The explosion was claimed by the Islamic State extremist group and led Russia to ban all direct flights to Egypt, a critical blow to the country's beleaguered tourism sector, which has been largely reliant on Russian customers in recent years.

The sector suffered direct losses of between 280 million and 300 million dollars monthly as a result of the ban, according to then-tourism minister Hisham Zaazou.

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.