Qatari diplomat who caused disturbance on Denver plane - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Qatari diplomat who caused disturbance on Denver plane may not face charges

DENVER, Colo.- The furor touched off by a Middle Eastern diplomat apparently trying to sneak a smoke on an airliner appears to have gone mostly unnoticed by those not directly affected. The diplomat's action sparked a bomb scare Wednesday night on a flight from Washington to Denver, with fighter jets scrambled and law enforcement on high alert.  

But no explosives were found, and officials say they do not believe the diplomat from Qatar (GUH'-tur) was trying to harm anyone. He had apparently joked about the smell of smoke, saying he was trying to light his shoes. Hours after the plane landed investigators were still interviewing the suspect. Qatar is a country just northeast of Saudi Arabia.  

Inside the terminal, passengers from other flights went about their business, apparently unaware of any emergency. The airport remained open and spokesman Jeff Green said no flights were delayed or canceled. Here's a quote from one passenger aboard during the incident: "We came in very low and very fast. It appeared we had an expedited landing. We landed on 35 right, and we pulled up at the fire rescue station right off of 35 right. And then the pilot shut down the engines and just said that we wouldn't be going to the gate right away. And then they brought out all the fire trucks. And then we just sat there for a while. We've been on the ground for more than an hour and a quarter now."  

At this point it's not clear what charges the suspect will face, but he is set to appear in court Thursday morning. Authorities say the suspect is a Qatari diplomat, which could complicate charges against him. Foreign diplomats, as well as U.S. diplomats in other countries, have broad immunity from prosecution in the country they visit. That means that U.S. prosecutors will have to ask Qatar for permission to charge the suspect and the country could decline. If that happens, the suspect will likely be immediately deported and banned from ever again entering the U.S.

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