Nearly a year after the Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 went missing and after hundreds of outlandish conspiracy theories did their rounds on the Internet explaining its disappearance, a science author has come up with an extraordinary theory, claiming the jumbo jet was 'stolen' on the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Jeff Wish, a US-based science writer, who was also part of the CNN team during its vast coverage when MH370 mysteriously vanished into thin air last year, has based his bizarre theory on pings that the plane emitted for seven hours after the jet veered off its course; the pings were recorded by British telecom company Inmarsat.
In an article in New York Magazine, the writer claims that hijackers, who were possibly inside the plane – and were Russians – 'spoofed' the plane's navigation data to make it appear as if flight MH370 went in a particular direction, though, in fact, the jet was flown to Baikonur Cosmodrome, a high profile operational space launch facility leased by the Kazakh government to Russia till 2050.
"As it happened, there were three ethnically Russian men aboard MH370, two of them Ukrainian-passport holders from Odessa. Could any of these men, I wondered, be special forces or covert operatives?" he asks, putting forward his theory.
He admits, however, that he doesn't know why exactly Vladimir Putin would want to 'steal' a Malaysian passenger plane.
"Maybe he wanted to demonstrate to the United States, which had imposed the first punitive sanctions on Russia the day before, that he could hurt the West and its allies anywhere in the world," says Wish.
He adds: "Maybe what he was really after were the secrets of one of the plane's passengers. Maybe there was something strategically crucial in the hold. Or maybe he wanted the plane to show up unexpectedly somewhere someday, packed with explosives."
This is not the first time he has written that Russia was involved in a sophisticated plane hijack operation that was kept secret.
Wish, who is also member of the aviation experts, the Independent Group had posted his theory on the possible hijacking in December last year in his own website.
He had stated that the idea that MH370 was hijacked to Kazakhstan is not new and in the days following MH370's disappearance, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak had personally appealed to Kazakhstan's president, the Soviet-era strongman Nursultan Nazarbayev, to allow Malaysia to carry out a search operation in the country.
Kasakhstan never responded to the request, thereby intensifying the suspicion that it could have had a role in the plane's disappearance.
"If Russia has the savvy to plan an insanely complex special operation, they also have a track record of implementing such schemes," Wise wrote in his post, adding the alleged hijackers only need to 'spoof' or falsify satellite data from Flight MH370.
"Kazakhstan lacks the means and technical savvy to carry out a sophisticated hijack, the same is not true of Russia. Russia is (arguably) the only country that stands apart from the West and yet is as technically advanced in the aerospace industry as the United States," Wise had said.