Aditya Verma, a British chess prodigy who made a joke stating: “I’m Taliban,” has now been summoned to court in Madrid to stand trial for his reckless actions. 

Gifted student Aditya Verma, aged 20, said he’d put a bomb on an easyJet flight from the UK to Menorca, adding that he is part of the Taliban. He now faces a £100,000 bill in fines and compensation by the Spanish court, as he is being charged with a public order offence.

Verma is a former star pupil at St Olave’s Grammar School in Orpington in Kent and was embarking on a fun-filled graduation trip with friends to Menorca in the summer of 2022. Using the social media platform Snapchat, he wrote to his companions,’ I’m going to blow this plane up. I’m a Taliban.’, just before the aircraft took off from Gatwick airport on July 3.

Their mobiles picked up this message on Gatwick Airport’s Wi-Fi servers and immediately triggered alarm bells with security because of the sensitive and potentially life-threatening words used.

As soon as the plane landed at its destination, armed police officers were there to meet Aditya and took him away in handcuffs. He then spent two nights in police custody before being presented in front of a judge.

He was released on £8,600 bail and told he was free to leave Spain, but informed that he would continue to be investigated by the Audiencia Nacional.

Since arriving home, Verma has told local news outlets that he regrets his reckless actions: “It was a moment of madness which I regret, and I’m so sorry for the trouble I caused. It was a joke, and I didn’t mean anything by it. I’m sorry for ruining my friends’ holiday, but it was all just a joke, and I didn’t mean to scare anyone on the plane if they were frightened by what happened. I thought as it was a private Snapchat that my friends would see it.”

Verma is currently studying economics at Bath University. Although Spanish authorities have confirmed that they are not seeking a prison sentence, his future will indeed look very different if he is convicted of the crime.

Many people, including the 20-year-old’s family, friends and teachers, have defended him, expressing that ‘they know he is not a terrorist’. Verma stated, “I won’t be doing anything silly again. I’ve learned my lesson.”

His fate at his trial on Monday, January 22 2024, will be decided by a single professional judge and not a jury.