The Soviet fighter pilot who in 1983 shot down a Korean jetliner with 269 aboard says he was justified in firing because the plane was spying over Soviet airspace.

Gennady Osipovich, pilot of the Sukhoi-15 interceptor that destroyed KAL Flight 007, was quoted in the Soviet government newspaper Izvestia as saying he still finds it hard to believe there were any passengers."This was a spy plane," he said in an interview published Thursday. "It at least did not fly to us by coincidence."

All aboard the Boeing 747 were killed when Osipovich fired two missiles at the Boeing 747, which strayed over a sensitive military area of the Soviet Far East.