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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Alleged plan to sabotage flight called 'bad joke'

Saturday, November 23, 2002

PARIS -- A Moroccan man was detained Friday as he arrived in Paris on an Air France flight from Montreal after authorities were told he had brought a bomb on board.

A search of the plane turned up no explosives, and a top French transportation official described the incident as a "bad joke." The man was released Friday after questioning.

Police said Canadian authorities were contacted by a person in Montreal who claimed the man had written of his intentions to blow up the flight.

A spokeswoman for the French airport authority said authorities believe the passenger argued with a friend before boarding.

The friend is believed to have told authorities he brought a bomb on board, the spokeswoman said, suggesting the quarrel was a motive for the claim.

The airline said there was no hijacking attempt, contrary to initial police reports that the passenger had threatened to blow up the Boeing 767.

Flight 345 proceeded "normally" to Charles de Gaulle Airport, Air France said. The airline refused to give further details. It was unclear if the man had been restrained during the flight.

Police said the passenger was a Moroccan man, born in 1977, who lives in Canada. He was released Friday after questioning in the anti-terrorism section of a Paris police station.

"In these times when the terrorist threat is real, it's better to use extra precaution," Dominique Bussereau, France's transportation undersecretary, told France-Inter radio. "I hope with all my heart that the author of this bad joke is punished."

"All passengers are safe and sound," Bussereau said. "The passengers disembarked from the plane at the end of the runway. The individual was arrested."

Bussereau said decisions about how to handle the situation were being made jointly by French and Canadian authorities.

"The pilot and crew showed perfect sang-froid," he said.


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