Police officers help passengers disembark from the hijacked Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET702 at Cointrin Airport in Geneva. Swiss authorities detained the hijacker of the plane after it was forced to land at Geneva's international airport on Monday. Picture: Denis Balibouse

Geneva - A hijacked Ethiopian plane that landed at Geneva airport early on Monday was diverted from Rome by the co-pilot, who sought asylum due to fear of persecution in Ethiopia, police spokesman Pierre Grangean told a news conference.

The unnamed co-pilot, an Ethiopian born in 1983, locked the cockpit door when the pilot went to the toilet.

He then asked to refuel at Geneva, landed the plane, climbed down from the cockpit window on a rope, and gave himself up to police.

He was unarmed and there was no risk at any time to crew or passengers on Flight ET702, Grangean said.

The co-pilot is being questioned by police. - Reuters