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Monday, 5 August, 2002, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
Plane scare woman faces US trial
Sarah Johnson
Sarah Johnson was held in Philadelphia
A British hairdresser who started a major security alert at an American airport has flown to the US to stand trial.

Sarah Johnson, of Friar Park, Wednesbury, West Midlands, is charged with criminal trespass and faces up to two years in prison if convicted.

The 22-year-old was detained for 30 hours after an incident at Philadelphia International Airport in February.

Miss Johnson was arrested for allegedly racing through security to catch a flight in February.

Terrorism suspect

She had been en route to a job on a cruise ship and was late for a flight but claims that she was waved through checkpoints.

Her details were checked at the boarding gate, and she got on the flight to Puerto Rico.


This is the result of a misunderstanding

Tom Watson MP

However Miss Johnson was taken off the plane by security guards 15 minutes later and held for 30 hours as a terrorism suspect.

Miss Johnson said: "To this day, I have not had my say as to how I am feeling and what happened that night.

"I think that sense will prevail and I am looking forward to that."

'Community backing'

West Bromwich West MP Tom Watson said the whole community was supporting her "brave" fight to clear her name in her trial.

He has been pressing the Foreign Office to persuade the American authorities to drop the charge, which he called a "total over-reaction".

Tom Watson MP
Tom Watson praised Miss Johnson's 'courage'

He said: "Her lawyer said she has a very strong case and I am convinced she is innocent.

"She believes, and I also believe, that she has done nothing wrong.

"This is the result of a misunderstanding.

"Sarah has had the courage to fly back to clear her name and the whole community is backing her fight to prove her innocence."

The Foreign Office has asked consular officials based in New York to contact the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office to establish what happened.

But it has stressed it cannot intervene in another country's judicial process.


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18 Apr 02 | England
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