As it is happening ...
By An Verschave
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A group of passengers of Iranian origin refused to disembark from a plane at Brussels airport on Thursday in a protest against the government in Tehran.
The 59 unarmed passengers were talking to the authorities, police spokeswoman Els Cleemput said, after other passengers and crew left the Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt and the pilot disabled the plane.
"We want the European Union to remove the Islamic leaders from Iran. We want to remove the mullahs from power," Armin Atshgar, a protester on the flight, told Reuters by mobile phone from the aircraft.
Atshgar, who said he held a Belgian passport, added that he and his fellow protesters would not leave the aircraft until they had spoken to a member of the European parliament. He added that there were children and pregnant women on the aircraft but said there were no weapons and the mood was calm and safe.
Belgium's RTL television said the group were Iranian monarchists and had handed a statement to police protesting about European Union relations with the Islamic Republic.
The EU is negotiating to try to persuade Tehran to curtail sensitive nuclear work which could help it produce a bomb, in return for trade and security benefits.
"They have all got European passports but they are probably all of Iranian origin," Cleemput said. "They have definitely got political motives."
A Lufthansa spokesman said the plane, a Boeing 737, had landed in Brussels's Zaventem airport at 2 p.m. on schedule with 103 passengers and crew.
Police said the protesters had refused food.
Air traffic continued as normal at Brussels National Airport and another plane was allowed to dock in the next bay, indicating the authorities saw no threat from the protesters.
(Additional reporting by Quentin Webb in Brussels and Phil Blenkinsop in Berlin)
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