Nigeria: Detained passenger didn't come from here

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Authorities on Friday identified the man removed from a West Africa-to-New York flight after apparently being added to the U.S. no-fly list while airborne.

Harold Demuren, the head of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, said officials from Delta Air Lines named the detained passenger as Salieu Badjan, a Gambian. Demuren said Badjan boarded the overnight Delta flight when it stopped in Dakar, Senegal.

The flight originated in Abuja, Nigeria's capital, giving Demuren a reason to summon the official from the airline to his office Friday. Demuren said Delta officials showed him the flight manifest, which identified Badjan and the fact he boarded in Dakar.

Demuren stressed that his country had no involvement in the incident, which comes after a 23-year-old Nigerian man flew from Lagos intent on detonating an explosive on a trans-Atlantic flight Christmas Day. The U.S. later added Nigeria to a list of countries where passengers must undergo a thorough pat-down screening before boarding any U.S.-bound flights.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, remains sensitive over being added to the list, though a culture of corruption and complacency worries many about potentially porous security there.

"No. 1: The guy did not board from Nigeria. He boarded from Dakar, Senegal," Demuren said. "No. 2: The guy is not a Nigerian."

In Gambia, the government largely remained in the dark about Badjan. State House spokesman Momodou Saidy said the presidency had not been informed about Badjan's detention, while police and security officials made similar statements.

It was not clear what triggered suspicions about Badjan. U.S. officials typically do not confirm if any specific individual is on the no-fly list and, for security reasons, do not discuss what factors might lead someone to be banned from travel to the U.S.

Badjan's status remained unclear Friday.

After the plane landed in Puerto Rico to refuel Thursday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents detained him. They later issued a statement identifying him only as "potential person of interest" who was removed from the flight for questioning.

Passengers told The Associated Press that the captain announced over the intercom that the man had been added to a roster of people banned from travel to the U.S. while the plane was in flight.

Jeffrey Quinones, a Customs and Border Protection spokesman, declined to comment Friday. Quinones would not say whether Badjan was still in custody.


Associated Press writers Ben Fox in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Abdoulie John in Banjul, Gambia, contributed to this report.