Rome | Italian authorities said today they were checking the background of a Pakistani man removed from an easyJet flight to Britain minutes before take-off after he was found to be travelling on a suspect passport. Checks are underway, there is no need to start speculating in a way that could cause alarm, Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said on Canale5 television.
It is too early to say if it was a case of a violation of immigration and citizenship rules or anything more than that. We will know more in the coming hours. Flight EZY4917 from Rome’s Fiumicino airport to London-Luton was within minutes of its scheduled 12:35 p.m (1135 GMT) take-off yesterday when Italian border agents boarded the plane and removed the man, easyJet confirmed.
A spokesman told AFP the man had been removed after the UK border agency alerted the Italians to discrepencies between the passport details the 33-year-old passenger had entered in his online booking and information that they held in their database. We don’t know it was definitely a fake passport. That is under police investigation, the spokesman said. After all bags were removed from the hold and rechecked, the plane took off later in the afternoon.
easyJet said five passengers unconnected with the suspect opted not to fly in the immediate aftermath of the incident and were switched to later flights. The scare occurred on the same day that Alfano announced that a Pakistani was among nine foreigners expelled from Italy since December because of suspicions they could be involved in jihadist attacks. The other eight expelled were five Tunisians, an Egyptian, a Moroccan and a Turk.
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