Italian police said that two men who hijacked a Turkish Airlines jet have surrendered in Italy, the semi-official Anatolia news agency reported on Tuesday.
Turkish Transportation Minister Binali Yidirim, who is visiting Azerbaijan, was quoted as saying that the hijackers had asked for political asylum from Italy.
Istanbul deputy Governor Vedat Muftuoglu said "20 minutes after take-off, two Turkish hijackers entered the pilot's cabin and demanded that the airplane change its course to Rome instead of Istanbul."
"The hijackers wanted to send a message to Pope Benedict XVI and protest the pope's upcoming visit to Turkey," noted Muftuoglu.
Muftuoglu indicated that as soon as legal procedures are completed in Italy, the THY jet will fly to Istanbul, the largest city of Turkey.
The Istanbul-bound THY jet with 113 people aboard, including six crewmembers, departed from Tirana at 04.20 pm and was hijacked after takeoff.
The THY Boeing 737-400 jet bounded for Istanbul was hijacked by two Turkish nationals, said the report.
The plane later was forced to land at Italy's Brindisi airport after two Italian F-16s took off and intercepted the hijacked plane.
The two Turkish hijackers said after the landing that they did this to protest a planned visit of the pope Benedict XVI to Turkey next month, airline officials said.
All of the passengers on board are safe now and no threats were issued by the two hijackers yet.
In a speech at Regensburg University in Germany in last month, Pope Benedict XVI quoted a 14th-century Christian emperor criticising the Prophet Muhammad.
The speech drew widespread criticism from Muslim world, which demanded much clearer apology from the Pope despite his expression of regret over his speech.