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Eritrean taken off flight ‘because another passenger didn’t feel safe’

29th Apr 2016

Nadine Osman

A British man of Eritrean descent was ushered off a London bound easyJet flight by armed police because another passenger “didn’t feel safe”.

Meghary Yemane-Tesfagiorgis from London was in his seat as the plane sat on the tarmac awaiting take-off, but he was taken off for questioning instead of carrying on from Rome’s Fiumicino airport. The captain had explained they were delayed for 20 minutes because of a fault with luggage, so when a member of cabin crew asked if anyone called Yemane-Tesfagiorgis was on board, he assumed it had something to do with the luggage.

But when he came forward, he was greeted by Italian armed police. “I was asked to leave the plane by the captain, when asked why, he explained: ‘A fellow passenger has stated that she does not feel comfortable with you on board,’” said Yemane-Tesfagiorgis.

He added: “I felt violated. I’m a passenger like anyone else. It was racial profiling”. Yemane-Tesfagiorgis says he then spent hours speaking to airline staff and the police, and suggested the passenger who made the complaint should be taken off the plane.

“I was then directed by the police to the airport police station,” he said. “I was subjected to further questioning and intimidation by the Italian authorities before being left to sit in the airport for a further 15 or so hours.”

In a statement to The Muslim News a spokesman for easyJet said: “Mr Yemane-Tesfagiorgis was questioned by the authorities as a result of another passenger reporting concerns about his behaviour.

“The safety and security of its passengers and crew is our highest priority and airlines have to take any security-related concerns seriously. easyJet rebooked Mr Yemane-Tesfagiorgis on the next flight from Rome to Gatwick after the authorities confirmed they were satisfied he could travel.”

Yemane-Tesfagiorgis is seeking legal advice.

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