A US diplomat tried to take a flight from Moscow to Heathrow while carrying a Russian mortar with a detonator and traces of explosives, according to Russian officials.
This ordeal sparked a major security scare at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport even though the device was found by experts and poses no threat to passengers.
A sample Soviet mortar bomb[/caption]
The man, named as S C Williams, is a US embassy employee in Moscow and is alleged by Russians to have direct links to the US military.
He was checking in for Aeroflot flight SU2578 to Heathrow when the device was found due to tiny traces of explosives.
Russian foreign ministry said: “Bomb disposal experts were called in and confirmed that it was indeed a mortar with a detonator, but without an explosive substance although traces were present inside the shell.”
The item was confiscated from the man’s luggage in Terminal D, resulting in Williams missing his flight
It looks like the USA are trying to test the credibility of the Russian security system not only from the outside
Maria Zakharova, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman
He was later permitted to leave Russia several hours later on a direct flight to New York even though Moscow publicly claimed the incident was a deliberate “provocation” by the US.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: “It looks like the USA are trying to test the credibility of the Russian security system not only from the outside, regularly organising provocative raids of military ships and planes near our borders, but also from inside.”
She also alleged that Americans had deliberately used an employee of its Moscow embassy who was “obviously related to the American army”.
The US “organised a provocation” on Saturday at the airport, the main hub for state carrier Aeroflot, she said.
The passenger allegedly told Russian officials the weapon was “for my personal collection” – claiming it had been bought as a “souvenir” at a military market in Moscow.
Russian foreign ministry added: “Given the heightened attention ….since the 9/11 attacks, he simply could not be aware that a bomb in a bag is very serious. It means he was aware of making such a step.”
A US government spokeswoman said: “We are aware of an incident at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow involving an individual from the US Embassy.
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“The situation has been resolved and the individual was allowed to depart Russia after the authorities removed the item from his luggage.
“There was no danger presented to any traveller.”
Political expert Alexey Martynov told Vzglyad newspaper: “He could buy this mortar bomb without explosives at a market, Izmailovo for example, and have no idea that the blasting fuze was still inside.”
Sample Soviet mortar bombs[/caption]
The ordeal sparked a major security scare at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow[/caption]
The US embassy in Moscow where the man is an employee[/caption]
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: ‘It looks like the USA are trying to test the credibility of the Russian security system’[/caption]