Man arrested after romantic goodbye sparks chaos at airport
Published 10/01/2010 | 05:00
A man believed to have breached security to bid his girlfriend goodbye, triggering the shutdown of a busy Newark airport terminal that led to delayed flights worldwide last Sunday, was arrested in New Jersey, US. He faces a trespassing charge and a fine of up to $500 (€350) -- punishment a senator says should be much harsher.
Haisong Jiang (28), of Piscataway, in New Jersey, was taken into custody on Friday night, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said. He was questioned at the airport by Port Authority police, who arrested him, and released him shortly after midnight.
The Port Authority said in a statement that Jiang will be charged with defiant trespass.
Jiang is due to appear in court next week.
It was not immediately clear whether Mr Jiang has retained a lawyer.
Mr Jiang, who is Chinese, is a doctoral student in a joint molecular bio-sciences programme at Rutgers University, one of his roommates said.
He said Jiang was born in Jiangxi in southern China, and has been in the US since 2004.
Jiang's roommate said Jiang's girlfriend was a recent Rutgers graduate who lives in Los Angeles and was visiting for the holidays.
The roommate said he arrived home on Friday night and two officers were waiting outside.
He called Jiang, who he said was at the gym, and told him the officers were waiting. Jiang returned home, spoke to the officers and was arrested.
New Jersey senator Frank Lautenberg, who was briefed on the arrest, said authorities found Jiang with "sheer, hard police work" of sifting through records and following leads.
But he expressed anger that Jiang faces a charge he described as a "slap on the wrist" and will only be given a fine of about $500.
"This was a terrible deed in its outcome -- it wasn't some prank that didn't do any harm -- it did a lot of harm because it sent out an alert that people can get away with something like this," Mr Lautenberg said.
The breach led the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to shut down one of Newark Liberty International's three terminals for six hours, stranding thousands of passengers and contributing to long delays.
A person with direct knowledge of the investigation said on Friday that a TSA worker allegedly left his post seconds before the security breach.