September 1, 2010 / 4:35 PM / 8 years ago

Dutch free two Yemenis arrested as terror suspects

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch authorities said on Wednesday they had freed two Yemeni men held on suspicion of terrorism at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, after finding no evidence of wrongdoing despite a transatlantic security scare.

A frame grab from footage taken on a passenger's mobile phone shows Dutch authorities detaining one of two Yemeni men after their flight landed at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport on suspicion of terrorist conspiracy following a tip-off from the United States August 30, 2010. REUTERS/RTL4 via Reuters TV

The men were detained on Monday after U.S. authorities told the Dutch they had suspicious items in their luggage.

“The investigations in the U.S. and the Netherlands yielded no evidence of any involvement of the men with any unlawful act,” said a statement on the website of the Dutch prosecution service, which said the men had been freed without charge.

“After more intensive tests in the U.S., no traces of any explosives have been found,” it added.

The men had unusual items in their luggage, including a mobile phone taped to a plastic bottle and $7,000 in cash.

Initially, officials said they suspected the men might have been carrying out a “dry run” of an attack to see what they could bring onto a plane. But late on Tuesday U.S. officials said the men did not know each other, were not conducting any tests and were unlikely to be charged.

An alleged attempt to blow up an aircraft on an Amsterdam-Detroit flight last December led to a sharp tightening of security at Schiphol, Europe’s fifth-largest passenger airport.

The Yemenis arrived in Amsterdam from Chicago O’Hare on United flight 908 early on Monday and were detained on the plane after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security alerted Dutch authorities to suspicious items found in their luggage.

These included mobile phones taped together, and one phone taped to a plastic bottle. The phones were seized in the United States.

Passenger footage aired by Dutch commercial broadcaster RTL showed police escorting the handcuffed men off the plane as passengers watched from their seats.

The arrests revived memories of the alleged attempt to bomb an aircraft on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit last Christmas Day.

Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab has been charged with trying to blow up a Delta Air Lines flight as it approached Detroit with an explosive device hidden in his underwear.

Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block and Marcel Michelson; editing by Tim Pearce

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