BAGHDAD, Iraq - Hijackers who commandeered a Saudi jetliner and took it to Baghdad were arrested late Saturday, Iraqi state television reported, ending a daylong ordeal for more than 100 people on board.
The Boeing 777 was on its way from Saudi Arabia to London when it was seized over the Mediterranean Sea and forced to fly around the Mideast for several hours before landing.
State television and airport officials said that the 7-hour crisis ended at 11:20 p.m. local time after high-ranking government officials negotiated with the two hijackers, who then surrendered peacefully.
The 103 passengers and crew members were reported safe. Officials said they were spending the night at a Baghdad hotel and were expected to leave Iraq Sunday.
No other details were immediately available on how the hijacking ended.
The two hijackers were later allowed to speak briefly with reporters. They praised Iraqi authorities and criticized their own government.
''We carried out the operation because we believe in the principles of justice and equality,'' one said. The other said the Saudi people were against the presence of U.S. troops in their territory.
The hijackers, who refused to give their names, said they haven't asked for political asylum, countering an earlier report.
Earlier, Al-Jazeera satellite television showed the passengers descending a ramp from the plane.
''We are very grateful to the government of Iraq,'' said a middle-aged man identifying himself only as a Pakistani.
Al-Jazeera, a Qatar-based station that broadcasts to the Middle East, also showed a few women, children and several other men descending the ramp surrounded by plainclothes security agents.
Speaking before the release, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official, Taher Haboush, said the hijackers had said they seized the plane because they were upset over an investigation into the Saudi human rights situation that was too favorable to the government.
The hijackers also said they ordered the plane to fly to Baghdad because Iraq rejects ''U.S. hegemony,'' Haboush said.
It wasn't immediately clear if the hijackers were armed or what other means they used to seize control of the aircraft. A hijacker had at one point threatened to blow up the plane unless it was allowed to fly to Baghdad, Saudi officials said on condition of anonymity.
Word of the hijacking first emerged in Cairo, Egypt. Egyptian civil aviation officials said the pilot radioed them at 3:55 p.m. local time to say the plane had been commandeered and the hijackers were insisting that it fly to Damascus, the Syrian capital.
But the plane was denied permission to land as it neared that airport, air traffic controllers on the island of Cyprus said.
The hijackers then asked to fly through Syrian airspace to Iraq, the Cypriots said. Syria initially refused but later allowed the plane to pass, Damascus air traffic controllers said, and the plane flew on to Baghdad.
Damascus airport officials speaking on condition of anonymity had said the plane landed in Damascus, but they later backed off of that statement, saying it was erroneous. The official Syrian Arab News Agency reported that the plane never landed in Damascus, but flew over Syria to Iraq.
After the plane landed in Baghdad, airport security was tight with guards turning away journalists. Ambulances, buses, a fire engine and a fuel tanker went into the airport as reporters watched.
Saudi Arabia and Iraq have had no relations since Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait in 1990. But the Iraqi Ministry of Culture and Information issued a statement saying ''the safety and security of the Saudi plane's passengers concerns us as if they were Iraqi citizens. Therefore, we reassure the families of the passengers that the Iraqi authorities will take of their relatives' safety and comfort to the maximum extent.''
Saudi Arabian Airlines officials in Jiddah said the plane had 90 passengers and 15 crew, led by an Ethiopian captain. The passenger figure included the two hijackers.
The airline officials said the passengers were 40 Britons, 15 Saudis, 15 Pakistanis, four Yemenis, four South Africans, two Kenyans, and one each from France, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, Oman, the Palestinian territories, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.
Baghdad's Saddam airport was reopened on Aug. 17, having been shut during the 1991 Gulf War. Regular flights to Baghdad are banned by the U.N. sanctions imposed since the invasion of Kuwait, but a series of planes have landed at Saddam airport in the past three weeks as France, Russia and a dozen Arab states sent delegations and humanitarian aid to Iraq.
Saturday's attack was the second hijacking in the Gulf in a month.
On Sept. 14, an Iraqi man hijacked a Qatar Airways plane at knifepoint and ordered it flown to Saudi Arabia. The 144 passengers and the crew escaped unharmed when the man surrendered to Saudi authorities at the city of Hael.