Suspect in Newark airport breach pleads guilty

March 9, 2010 1:16:29 PM PST
A Rutgers University graduate student from China charged with a security breach at Newark Liberty International Airport that led to worldwide flight delays pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge Tuesday, speaking publicly for the first time to apologize. Haisong Jiang, speaking through an interpreter, admitted to a municipal judge that he had passed under a security rope and entered a restricted area at the airport Jan. 3 to spend more time with his girlfriend, who was departing for California after visiting him in New Jersey.

Outside of court, Jiang spoke quietly in halting English, addressing his remarks to airport personnel, Transportation Security Administration officials and passengers affected by the delays.

"I want to deeply apologize to those people for my breach," Jiang said."I just wanted to spend more time with my girlfriend. I made a big mistake, and I also learned a big lesson."

As part of a plea agreement for the defiant trespassing charge, Jiang agreed to pay a $500 fine, plus additional court costs, and perform 100 hours of community service.

His attorney, Eric Bruce, said the misdemeanor charge would not affect Jiang's immigration status, and he would remain at Rutgers on a student visa.

Jiang was arrested Jan. 8, days after authorities identified him from airport surveillance video that showed a man stepping under a security rope and entering a restricted area of the airport.

The breach shut down a busy terminal, led to about 200 flights worldwide being delayed or canceled and affected about 16,000 travelers. The security breach might have cost airlines millions of dollars as the terminal was emptied and passengers were rescreened.


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