Briton 'made hoax bomb threat to delay airliner's departure'

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The Independent Online

A parking attendant accused of a bomb threat to delay a flight so a friend could find her passport could face 10 years in an American jail. Ilyas Savas, a married Briton with two children, has been remanded in custody in the US with an American teenager he met on the internet. He is accused of making a false bomb threat against an airliner.

A parking attendant accused of a bomb threat to delay a flight so a friend could find her passport could face 10 years in an American jail. Ilyas Savas, a married Briton with two children, has been remanded in custody in the US with an American teenager he met on the internet. He is accused of making a false bomb threat against an airliner.

Hatice Ceylan, 18, a high-school student, was to board an aircraft from Philadelphia to Boston, in June, then transfer to a connecting flight to Britain, but discovered her passport was locked inside a building.

Mr Savas, 33, who was waiting for her in Britain, is accused of telephoning the Embassy Suites hotel in Philadelphia, with Miss Ceylan's knowledge, to warn that explosives were on both American Airlines planes. His call caused the emergency evacuation the first flight and the search of both planes.

Days later, Mr Savas flew to the US to meet Miss Ceylan, but the pair were arrested trying to redeem the non-refundable tickets she failed to use when she missed the flight.

At a court hearing on Wednesday, Magistrate Judge Carol Sandra Moore Wells ordered both be held in custody. Mr Savas asked to be allowed to return home to Homerton, east London, and return for trial, but his request was denied.

The US air marshal Alexandre Bailey said 19 passengers were taken off a Philadelphia-to-Boston flight and rescreened while the plane was searched. A Boston-to-London flight was also searched before it took off with 159 passengers on board.

The court heard that Miss Ceylan, of Edgewater, New Jersey, was to marry a Turkish man in a ceremony arranged by her parents. She was expected to appear before the magistrate again to argue against being kept in a federal detention centre.

The pair, both Turkish by birth, face a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a £275,000 fine if convicted.

In a separate case two weeks ago Gay Wilson, 37, an American Airlines flight attendant, was charged after allegedly writing a threatening letter that caused a plane to be diverted.

Ms Wilson, of Arlington, Texas, told authorities she had found a note saying there was a bomb in the hold of the plane she was travelling in. She was charged with unlawful interference with an airline, a federal charge that carries up to a 20-year prison sentence, Doug Riggin, of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, said.

The jet, from Dallas to Boston, was diverted to Nashville after Ms Wilson said she had found the note in one of the lavatories. It read: "There is a bomb onboard this flight to Boston in cargo. Live Saddam!"

Mr Riggin said: "She was one of the people we interviewed, and our investigation revealed that she was indeed the person responsible for the note." He declined to discuss the motive for the bomb threat with legal proceedings pending.

The 129 passengers were evacuated and rescreened by the Transportation Security Administration. FBI investigators examined a package which turned out to be harmless.