NEW YORK (Reuters) - The security scare that shut Newark airport for hours and delayed thousands of passengers was caused by a man who slipped into a secure area to give a woman one last goodbye kiss, a newspaper reported on Thursday.
The breach at Newark Liberty International Airport, one of three major airports serving the New York City area, rattled security officials and the airline industry because it came so soon after the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner.
A videotape of the Newark incident shows the man embracing a woman at the C-1 security checkpoint before she passes through passenger screening, the Star-Ledger newspaper of New Jersey said, citing unnamed security officials who have viewed the tape.
The man, who was not a passenger, walks past a spot where a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer should have been stationed to move closer to the woman, the paper said.
The woman holds up a rope meant to keep unscreened people out of the secure area so that the man can pass underneath, and they walk hand-in-hand toward the boarding area before disappearing from view, the paper reported.
The man left the airport and has not been identified. The TSA officer who was working that area has been placed on administrative leave.
Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey is attempting to make the video public, a spokesman for the senator said.
“After viewing video of the security breach, I am even more outraged by the lapse that occurred,” Lautenberg told the Star-Ledger.
One of the planes hijacked in the September 11 attacks of 2001 took off from Newark airport. That flight crashed into a Pennsylvania field.
Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Sandra Maler