Turkey's state-run agency says a court in Istanbul has formally arrested a Ukrainian man who allegedly tried to hijack a Turkey-bound flight to Sochi, Russia, as the Winter Olympics were beginning.

Anadolu Agency says the man, identified as Artem Kozlov, was ordered jailed on Sunday following questioning by police.

Private NTV television said he was arrested on hijacking and hostage taking charges.

The man claimed he had a bomb and tried to divert the Pegasus Airlines flight, which originated in Kharkiv, Ukraine on Friday. The pilot tricked him and landed in Istanbul instead where he was subdued by security officers who sneaked on board.

Ukrainian officials said he tried to hijack the plane to press for the release of anti-government protesters in his country.

The foiled hijacking took place as thousands of athletes from around the world poured into a tightly-secured stadium in Sochi amid warnings the games could be a terror target.

"We think it was an individual thing," Transport Minister Lutfi Elvan told reporters in response to questions on to whether the incident was a "terrorist" act. "It may be linked to [events in] Ukraine. Our colleagues say it is not a serious issue."

Threatened to blow up the plane

Maxim Lenko, the head of the Ukrainian Security Service's investigative division, said Kozlov wanted to divert the plane to Sochi where Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych were meeting on the sidelines of the Olympics.

"The passenger put forth the demand to free the `hostages' in Ukraine," Lenko said, in reference to people arrested in the ongoing protests in Ukraine. "Otherwise, he threatened to blow up the plane."

Turkey's private NTV television quoting an unnamed passenger on board the plane said the man was demanding freedom for prisoners in Ukraine as well as former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is Yanukovych's top foe and serving a seven-year sentence on charges of abuse of office.

Huge protests began in Ukraine when Yanukovych shelved an agreement to deepen ties with the 28-nation European Union in favour of getting a $15 billion loan from Russia. Many Ukrainians resent the long shadow Russia has cast over Ukraine.

The protests quickly expanded their grievances to calls for Yanukovych's resignation and the denunciation of police violence after the brutal dispersal of some early peaceful rallies. The demonstrations erupted into clashes last month after Yanukovych approved harsh laws against protesters. At least three protesters died in the clashes.

With files from CBC News