Air France flight to US in false terror alert

13th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

NEW YORK, May 12 (AFP) - The United States ordered an Air France flight from Paris to Boston diverted Thursday after a passenger whose name is on a terrorism watch list was found to be on board, officials said.

NEW YORK, May 12 (AFP) - The United States ordered an Air France flight from Paris to Boston diverted Thursday after a passenger whose name is on a terrorism watch list was found to be on board, officials said.  

Flight AF-332, with 169 passengers on board, was sent to Bangor in the north-eastern state of Maine, and the passenger was questioned by federal officials.  

Authorities confirmed that the passenger had no apparent link to terrorism.

Air France said that it had cooperated "to the fullest extent with US authorities" over the plane.  

Transportation Safety Administration spokesman Lauren Stover said there may have been a case of mistaken identity. "There is no information that would tie this passenger to a terrorism nexus," said Stover.  

"After an interview and review of the facts on the ground by Customs and Borders Protection, the individual in question was deemed admissible to the United States," spokeswoman Christiana Halsey said.  

"He and his travelling companions have been allowed to continue on to their original destination."  

The Air France jet stayed at Bangor for one hour and 40 minutes before being allowed to complete the journey to Boston, said an airport source at Bangor.  

French authorities failed to spot the name on the watch list when the passenger boarded at Charles De Gaulle International Airport outside Paris, said a TSA official, speaking on condition of anonymity.  

After takeoff, Air France relayed the passenger list to US authorities following the usual practice. US security officials then found that one of the names was on the terror suspect list.

They contacted Air France to have the plane diverted, the source said.  

An Air France statement said: "The safety and security of our passengers are our highest priority. We will make every effort to ensure our passengers reach their final destination with minimal inconvenience."  

It was not the first time transatlantic flights have been diverted as a result of alerts over passenger names on the US list. Several Air France flights have been diverted in the past 18 months.  

The British singer formerly known as Cat Stevens, who has changed his name to Yusuf Islam, was deported after flying to the United States from London in September 2004 when his name was found on the US watch list. His Washington-bound plane also diverted to Bangor.  

Another flight from Bogota to Atlanta was diverted to Florida in December 2004, when one passenger name appeared to match a suspect on the watch list. After questioning, the passenger was released.
 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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