Of Newark Liberty International Airport’s Terminal B
Thursday, April 5, 2012 Last updated: Thursday April 5, 2012, 6:13 PM
BY SHAWN BOBURG
A 64-year-old British man unwittingly walked past a distracted TSA agent at a security checkpoint in Newark Liberty International Airport on Thursday afternoon, forcing a temporary evacuation of the terminal, authorities said.
The incident, which occurred around 2:40 p.m., was the latest of several embarrassing security breaches that have raised questions about security at the airport.
The evacuation of Terminal B lasted about an hour while Port Authority police interviewed the man, reviewed surveillance video and swept the terminal with bomb-sniffing dogs, said Al Della Fave, an agency spokesman. Four flights were delayed as a result, he said.
“It was completely innocent,” Della Fave said, adding that Singh “just nonchalantly walked through the security exit.”
In January 2010, Rutgers doctoral student Haisong Jiang ducked past security to kiss his girlfriend goodbye. Jiang, too, had walked through an area reserved for exiting passengers. That incident caused a six-hour shutdown of Terminal C and the rescreening of passengers. Jiang was fined $3,000 by the Transportation Security Administration.
The breach also led to federal legislation, signed late last year, that stiffened penalties for those who intentionally breach airport security. It also required the TSA to submit a report to Congress making recommendations for improving security at security checkpoint exits. That study is currently under way.
The man in Thursday’s incident, Charan Jit Singh, was charged with criminal trespass, Della Fave said. The TSA agent stationed at the exit of the B-1 security checkpoint was distracted by another person who was asking for directions when Singh walked through the exit, Della Fave said.
Once inside the terminal, Singh asked for help from another TSA agent, who quickly realized Singh was not authorized to be in the area, Della Fave said.
The terminal, which has nine gates and is managed by Delta Airlines, was cleared and passengers were rescreened by 3:40 p.m.
Singh, who is in the country for a family wedding, was meeting a relative who was arriving on a flight, Della Fave said.
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