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No federal charges for man with 'explosive device' at airport

Western Pennsylvania residents know that security at airports has stepped up significantly since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. With federal Transportation Security Administration agents conducting searches of passengers' property and bodies in a way that some people find invasive, anyone who agents accuse of bringing contraband items such as a weapon can generally expect to face serious federal charges.

But in some cases, federal prosecutors will choose not to charge someone due to the individual circumstances of the case. That is what happened to a 24-year-old man who was arrested at an airport in Arizona the morning of June 14 for allegedly possessing an explosive device.

Authorities would not describe the device, where the man was allegedly carrying it or how it was found beyond saying that TSA agents discovered it while searching passengers prior to boarding. Police arrested the 24-year-old and held him for interrogation. The FBI was also involved in the interrogation.

However, the FBI agents decided the man's possession of the device did not violate federal law, though the U.S. Attorney's Office is reviewing the case, a local police spokesman said. The only charge leveled against the suspect is a misdemeanor count of possessing an explosive device without a license. Local police believe that the man did not intend to use the unidentified device while on the plane. He has been released from police custody.

Though this case will apparently not result in federal charges, anyone accused of bringing a dangerous object onto an airplane can expect to face aggressive prosecution that could result in prison time if convicted. It is vital that someone arrested at the airport invoke their right against having to speak to law enforcement officials before consulting with a defense attorney.

Source: The Spokesman-Review, "No federal charges for man with explosives at airport," June 15, 2012

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