A Portuguese actor claims police detained him on suspicion of terrorism after he mediated and chanted Buddhist texts on board an aircraft at Paris Orly airport.
Heitor Lourenco, 47, was a passenger on a Transavia flight headed to Lisbon, Portugal, when he began reciting texts in Tibetan from his smartphone.
Police officers they ordered everyone to leave the plane, and led him away for questioning.
A nearby passenger told officers that they thought the actor was reading aloud a text from the Quran which included the words “death” and “bombs”, Lourenco told Portuguese media late Thursday.
Passengers also feared that a clock on his smartphone that was timing the length of his meditation was a bomb timer, Lourenco said.
Police later concluded that Lourenco posed no threat. All passengers — including Lourenco — were able to take a flight for Lisbon the next morning.
Airline spokeswoman Delphine Sacleux confirmed that another passenger had alerted the cabin crew of Lourenco's “suspicious attitude in prayer”, and that the crew followed standard procedures ”given the current climate.“
The soap opera and comedy sketch show actor said he was released after he showed police some online clips of his acting and his Wikipedia page that states he is a Buddhist.
France is currently operating on its highest level of alert for terrorism following deadly shooting attacks in and near Paris in January and the beheading of a French businessman last week in southeastern France.
France's national police, Orly airport police and the Paris airports authority did not return calls seeking comment.
Additional reporting by APReuse content