SEATTLE – Two European Union business consultants have been identified as the mystery men who raised security concerns when they were seen taking photographs aboard a Washington state ferry last summer.
The men went to a U.S. embassy two weeks ago after seeing photographs of themselves that the FBI released to the news media in an effort to identify them, FBI agents said.
Fearing they would be arrested if they traveled to the United States, the pair presented paperwork that established their identities, employment and their reason for being in Seattle, according to an FBI news release.
The FBI says it verified that the men visited the city for legitimate business reasons and took a ferry ride in July. Their identities were not released, but according to the FBI news release they are citizens of an EU nation.
Last August, seeking to identify the men, the FBI released photos were taken by a crew member after passengers reported the men were acting unusually. Witnesses said the men took an interest in parts of the boat and activities that tourists don't normally care about.
"Where these gentlemen live, they don't have vehicle ferries. They were fascinated that a ferry could hold that many cars and wanted to show folks back home," FBI Special Agent Roberta A. Burroughs told The Seattle Times.
The decision to release the photos was questioned by some because the men weren't associated with any crime, but the FBI determined it was the best way to resolve any issues while keeping the ferry system safe and secure.
"We want to put the issue to rest," said David Gomez, the FBI's assistant special agent in charge of national security programs in Seattle. All along, the FBI only wanted to talk to the men, he said, adding that they aren't in trouble, nor do their names appear on a government watch list or no-fly list.