On January 3, Haisong Jiang passed under a rope and entered the restricted boarding area at the Newark Liberty International airport to say goodbye to his girlfriend. She was leaving for California after visiting him in New Jersey.
His action prompted a security breach and led to worldwide flight delays. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge Tuesday and apologized publicly for the first time. Jiang is graduate student at Rutgers University from China.
He said, “I want to deeply apologize to those [affected] for my breach. I just wanted to spend more time with my girlfriend. I made a big mistake, and I also learned a big lesson.” He addressed his apology to airport personnel, Transportation Security Administration officials and passengers affected by the delays.
The breach led TSA to shut down one of Newark’s three terminals for six hours, stranding thousands of passengers and contributing to long delays. About 200 flights worldwide were delayed or canceled because of the security breach. Airlines estimate they lost millions of dollars because the terminal was emptied and the passengers were rescreened.
As part of a plea agreement for the defiant trespassing charge, Jiang will pay a $500 fine, court costs, and perform 100 hours of community service.
His attorney said the misdemeanor charge would not affect Jiang’s immigration status, and he would remain at Rutgers on a student visa.
Jiang was arrested Jan. 8 after authorities identified him from the surveillance video that showed a man stepping under a security rope and entering a restricted area of the airport.