Officials say man removed from Sunday flight posed no security threat to plane

By Devlin Barrett, AP
Sunday, December 27, 2009

Officials say man on Sunday flight posed no threat

WASHINGTON — The same Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight that was attacked on Christmas Day saw another security scare Sunday during a confrontation with a sick passenger from Nigeria, officials said.

Security and airline personnel have been on edge since authorities charged a passenger — also from Nigeria — with attempting to detonate a hidden explosive device while his flight from Amsterdam approached Detroit on Friday.

On Sunday, the flight crew became concerned after the passenger became sick and spent about an hour locked in the bathroom, officials said.

“This raised concerns so an alert was raised,” FBI spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold said. “The investigation shows that this was a non-serious incident and all is clear at this point.”

The pilot of the Sunday flight requested emergency assistance upon arrival, sending federal authorities scrambling to respond.

The Transportation Security Administration said the airline alerted authorities to a “disruptive passenger” on board flight 253, who was taken into custody when the plane landed.

Two law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the incident, said the crew apparently acted out of an abundance of caution.

Post-flight interviews by investigators determined the passenger was a legitimate businessman who posed no security threat to the plane, the two law enforcement officials said.

White House officials briefed President Barack Obama on the incident.

Associated Press writer Ed White in Detroit contributed to this report.

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