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Alleged NY-LA flight stowaway cleared security: TSA

By Molly O'Toole

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A man charged with stowing away on a flight from New York to Los Angeles last Friday cleared airport security screening, the Transportation Security Administration confirmed on Thursday.

"Every passenger that passes through security checkpoints is subject to many layers of security including thorough physical screening at the checkpoint," said TSA spokesperson Greg Soule in a statement.

"TSA's review of this matter indicates that the passenger went through screening."

Olajide Olewaseun Noibi was taken into custody in Los Angeles after trying to board another flight with an illegitimate boarding pass on Wednesday, authorities said.

An FBI spokeswoman in Los Angeles confirmed Noibi is a dual citizen of the United States and Nigeria and that he was born in the United States.

On Friday he had stowed away on a Virgin America flight from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport to Los Angeles, according to an FBI affidavit.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer and an FBI agent were present at Los Angeles International Airport when Noibi attempted to board a Delta Airlines Flight to Atlanta on Wednesday morning.

A Delta agent refused Noibi's boarding pass multiple times, saying the ticket was from the day prior, according to the FBI.

Noibi allegedly told the FBI he did not pay for the Virgin America flight from New York to Los Angeles, which he said he took to recruit people for his software business.

The FBI had been notified on Saturday by a dispatcher from Los Angeles Airports Police and the captain of the flight that Noibi had boarded the Friday Virgin flight.

He was discovered mid-flight in a cabin seat after a flight attendant was told by other passengers the seat was supposed to be empty. FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller added that the passengers initially complained about Noibi's strong body odor.

When Noibi was asked for his boarding pass, he produced a pass and ticket for the day prior and not in his name. He was also not on the flight manifest.

After initially hesitating, Noibi produced true identification to the flight crew, the affidavit said.

Noibi was released on Saturday pending further investigation after federal agents who interviewed him and searched his baggage determined he was not a physical threat.

When the FBI questioned Noibi on Wednesday, they found over 10 boarding passes in his possession, none in his name, the affidavit said.

The proper holder of the Virgin boarding pass told the FBI he lost it from his back pocket on the subway to JFK and does not know Noibi.

Noibi has been formally charged with being a stowaway.

Stowing away on a flight is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Noibi told the FBI he was able to go through screening with the boarding pass, his University of Michigan identification and a police report that his passport had been stolen.

(Additional reporting by Steve Gorman and Bernd Debusmann Jr.; Editing by Jerry Norton)