When questioned the man said he couldn’t recall how he’d traveled to the United States
A man who said he couldn’t recall how he bypassed security and flew from Denmark to Los Angeles last month without a ticket or documentation, is being probed by US authorities, reports say.
On November 4, the man, who is in his forties and who court documents identify as Russian-Israeli national Sergei Vladimirovich Ochigava, snuck onto a Scandinavian Airlines Flight from Copenhagen and arrived at Los Angeles International Airport.
When questioned by investigators there, Ochigava said that he was entirely unaware as to how he came to be on the flight, as the FBI federal complaint filing says. He could also not explain how he’d managed to bypass several layers of security in the Danish capital without valid travel documentation – and could not recall how he had come to be in Copenhagen in the first place.
Ochigava had previously suffered from what was described as panic and anxiety attacks after moving to Israel from Moscow, news outlet MSK1 reported. It added that his family is seeking to free him from US custody and return him to Israel.
According to information provided to investigators by the flight crew, Ochigava did not keep a low profile while on board the aircraft. He attempted to speak to various passengers and also sat in several different seats during the roughly 12-hour flight, the report adds.
In addition, Ochigava is said to have eaten “two meals during each meal service and at one point attempted to eat the chocolate that belonged to members of the cabin crew,” the federal complaint says.
A search of the man conducted by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) found “what appeared to be Russian identification and an Israeli identification card,” the federal documents add. It is also alleged that Ochigava had at first falsely told CBP officials that he’d left his US passport on the plane.
The complaint also states that Ochigava claimed to have not slept in three days and did not understand the nature of the investigation into his arrival in the US. He told investigators he holds a doctorate in economics and marketing and has worked as an economist in Russia, a Euronews report states.
A spokesperson for Scandinavian Airlines said in a statement to the Washington Post on Tuesday that it has “already altered some procedures at the gate after the incident took place.”
Ochigava reportedly pleaded not guilty to being an aircraft stowaway on December 5. A trial is expected to begin on December 26.