(Reuters) - The passenger who said she had a surgically-implanted device in her body and caused a US Airways jetliner flying across the North Atlantic to divert to Maine will not face criminal charges in the security scare, prosecutors said on Wednesday.
U.S. Attorney Thomas Delahanty said Lucie Zeeko Marigot, 41, a French citizen originally from Cameroon, would be taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and returned to France.
The announcement comes a day after her suspicious behavior prompted a US Airways flight from Paris to Charlotte, North Carolina carrying 188 people to make an unscheduled landing in Bangor, trailed by two F-15 fighter escorts that had been scrambled as the plane approached the coast.
Authorities detained and interviewed Marigot as soon as the plane was safely on the ground.
At a hearing Wednesday before a U.S. District Magistrate judge in Portland, Maine, Delahanty said Marigot had given a note to flight attendants that mentioned the surgically implanted device along with a book she wrote “that details her personal story.”
The note, written in French, sought help and stated that she had “an object in her body that is out of my control,” according to a statement from Delahanty.
The prosecutor quoted the woman as writing that she was “simply a victim of a group of doctors.”
A passenger on the flight, Jack Stevens, 78, a corporate attorney from Asheville, N.C. who was returning from a trip to Paris with his wife, said he was sitting three rows behind Marigot.
About four and a half hours into the flight a crewmember approached Marigot, who Stevens described as a full-figured, light-skinned African woman with hair “almost down to her waist.”
Stevens, in an interview with Reuters, said there was no confrontation between the crewmember and Marigot. “It was done unobtrusively,” he said. “Next thing I know the two of them were walking back down the aisle. It was just odd.”
Soon after, he said, the pilot asked if there were any physicians on the plane. Authorities have said two doctors aboard the flight examined the woman and determined she did not have the sort of scars that would have resulted from any kind of implant.
According to Stevens, the pilot told passengers the plane would have to make an unscheduled stop to refuel because of unexpectedly strong headwinds.
“After we landed the pilot came on the intercom and ‘fessed up,” Stevens said. The pilot said he has been asked to “make that little white lie,’” according to Stevens, who said there was no discernable outrage from passengers.
The diversion came on the heels of a recent disclosure of a foiled plot by al Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate to bomb a U.S.-bound plane, raising concerns about continued extremist interest in targeting aviation.
Stevens said, however, there was not a great deal of alarm on board. “Kind of small potatoes. I don’t think anybody had the notion that she was on board carrying a bomb. That was the last thing anybody was that we were in any danger.”
Reporting by Chris Francescani; Writing by Paul Thomasch; Editing by Anthony Boadle