Police have arrested a New Jersey man they believe breached security at Newark Liberty International Airport last Sunday, prompting hours of delays.
Haisong Jiang, 28, of Piscataway, N.J., was arrested around 7:30 p.m., according to the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, and officials plan to charge him with "defiant trespass" over the Jan. 3 incident.
"The charges were determined in coordination with the Essex County Prosecutor's Office and federal officials," according to the agency's written statement.
Jiang will not face federal charges over the incident, sources said.
After Port Authority police arrested Jiang at his home, he told detectives he was the person shown in a video of the security breach, sources added.
Detectives tracked down Jiang by culling through a list of possible suspects.
Video surveillance footage released Thursday suggested that the man who caused the security breach intentionally walked through an exit into a secure area of the airport to hug a woman. The maneuver caused hours of delays for thousands of people.
The video, released by the office of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., showed an unidentified man standing for several minutes near Checkpoint 1 in the Newark airport's Terminal C, apparently waiting for a woman at around 5:20 p.m. The Transportation Security Administration officer assigned to the post appeared to be aware of the man's presence, and at one point, the officer instructed the man to move back.
A few minutes later, however, the TSA guard inexplicably got up from his podium and walked away for about one minute. That's all the time it took for the man to sneak through the exit lane, embrace the woman and walk off into the secure concourse.
Lautenberg cheered the arrest.
"I applaud the Port Authority Police Department for working diligently to make this arrest," he said in a written statement. "With this arrest, law enforcement will be able to take a closer look into how and why this incident occurred and make sure that it never happens again."
It appeared the man meant no harm and merely wanted to follow the woman into the secure part of the concourse to say goodbye. He was seen elsewhere on surveillance video leaving the airport about 20 minutes after he breached security.
The TSA has placed the guard on administrative leave.
"TSA initiated a review of the specific incident and local incident response plans," the TSA's Ann Davis said.
"The surveillance video from Newark Liberty Airport clearly shows that a TSA officer's actions led to the Sunday incident," Davis added. "We will use this hard lesson to reinforce the sharp focus and tight discipline at all our stations across the country and ensure we maintain the public trust."
The video images came from a backup set of cameras owned by Continental Airlines. The airport cameras that should have recorded the breach were not working properly. The TSA failed to inform the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey about the faulty cameras, which had been working improperly since Dec. 28.
It is TSA's responsibility to recognize the camera breakdown, but the Port Authority says TSA did not inform it about the faulty cameras until 6:40 p.m., at which point the TSA sought images from a redundant set of cameras owned by Continental.