January 9, 2010
New York Times
by Sarah Wheaton
The man who is believed to have slipped into a secured area of Newark Liberty International Airport and to have caused a six-hour shutdown of a major terminal on Sunday has been arrested, Port Authority officials said on Friday night.
The man, Haisong Jiang, 28, was taken into custody at 7:30 p.m. at his home in Piscataway, N.J., according a statement from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The agency said he would be charged with defiant trespass.
Mr. Jiang was held at the authority’s administration building at the airport until about midnight, when he was released on his own recognizance and issued a summons to appear in Newark Municipal Court next week, said Paul M. Loriquet, a spokesman for the Essex County district attorney’s office.
“With this arrest, law enforcement will be able to take a closer look into how and why this incident occurred, and make sure that it never happens again,” Senator Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey said in a statement.
However, speaking later to The Associated Press, Mr. Lautenberg called the charge a “slap on the wrist.”
Mr. Loriquet characterized defiant trespass as a “petty disorderly persons offense” that carried a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail. He said that federal authorities had examined the case, determined that “no federal statutes applied,” and deferred to local officials.
The shutdown of one of the main terminals, the C Terminal, after the security breach on Sunday stranded thousands of travelers and caused flight delays that continued into Monday morning.
Mr. Jiang’s arrest came a day after a video showing security footage of the incident was released by Mr. Lautenberg. It shows a man in a light-colored jacket standing near where arriving passengers exit a secured part of the airport. When a security guard leaves his post, the man embraces a woman and slips across the rope into the secured part of the terminal. The two then walk away together.
Mr. Lautenberg said Mr. Jiang, who is Chinese, is a graduate student at Rutgers University. The school’s Web site lists him as a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine.
A neighbor of Mr. Jiang’s, Gene Wells, 53, said that he lived in a four-bedroom colonial-style house with several other students. Mr. Wells described them as “very, very quiet, good students that never had any parties there.”
The security guard has been on administrative leave since Tuesday, and he faces disciplinary action, according to the Transportation Security Administration. Derrick F. Thomas, a national vice president with union representing the guard, told The A.P. that the guard has “been rated a model employee.”