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Authorities ID man who prompted flight diversion

June 1, 2010, Montreal - Authorities have identified the man on a no-fly list who prompted them to divert a flight to Montreal over the weekend.


June 1, 2010
By The Canadian Press

The Immigration and Refugee Board says a deportation hearing will be held Wednesday for passenger Abdirahman Ali Gaal.

The Canada Border Services Agency confirmed Monday that the passenger was on a U.S. no-fly list and says the man was known to them. They did not identify him by name.

"This person was known to us and he was deemed inadmissable before because he didn't comply to the Immigration Act,'' said Jacqueline Roby, a Canada Border Services Agency spokeswoman.

Roby said American officials asked them to divert the aircraft, saying it could not enter U.S. airspace.

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"All we know is that this person could not fly over the United States. He was on a non-fly list so therefore that's why he was rerouted to Montreal.''

Roby would not give any other details on the man, such as age or country of origin, citing privacy laws.

She said he remains in detention pending his hearing.

Gaal was arrested aboard a Mexico-bound flight that was diverted to Montreal on the weekend.

Immigration Department spokesman Robert Gervais said details of the arrest would be made public at the hearing.

U.S. officials have said the Paris-Mexico City flight was denied access to American airspace after a person named in an outstanding warrant was reported aboard.

There had been reports the passenger was on a U.S. no-fly list, but the Transportation Security Administration does not confirm or deny whether people are on a government watch list. The Canadian Border Services Agency confirmed the passenger was on the list, but never used his name.

Gaal was removed from the plane and arrested by authorities.

The plane, which departed Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport at 4:31 a.m. Eastern Time, was carrying 150 passengers.

Other passengers were re-screened and allowed to reboard the flight after its stopover in Montreal; airport officials said it resumed its journey shortly after 10 p.m.