Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Man questioned and misses flight for speaking Tamil

A 32-year-old man speaking Tamil and some English about a sporting rivalry was questioned at Sea-Tac Airport and missed his flight Saturday because at least one person thought he was suspicious.
The Port of Seattle dispatched its police officers to investigate the case, which occurred Saturday around noon, said Bob Parker, airport spokesman. The Chicago man was preparing to board an American Airlines flight to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
The man was speaking Tamil, a language largely used in India, Sri Lanka and Singapore, on his cell phone at the departure gate and on the aircraft. An off-duty airline employee heard the conversation and informed the flight crew.
"It's a big misunderstanding," said Parker. "He had a perfectly innocent explanation that all added up." But Parker had no explanation as to why a man speaking Tamil, which is spoken worldwide, would be considered suspicious. Parker said the man was cooperative and boarded a later flight to Texas.
02/10/06 Brad Wong/Seattle Post Intelligencer
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