US mulling extending carry-on computer ban to Europe

Social media activist Thamer al-Dakheel Bourashed puts his laptop in his suitcase before boarding a flight to the US on March 23, 2017.
Social media activist Thamer al-Dakheel Bourashed puts his laptop in his suitcase before boarding a flight to the US on March 23, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US authorities are considering banning carry-on computers on European flights to the United States, widening the security measure introduced for flights from eight countries in March, an official said on Tuesday (May 9).

The Department of Homeland Security is close to making a decision on a wider ban as the busy summer transatlantic travel season looms, department spokesman David Lapan said.

Airlines flying to the United States from European airports that would be involved in implementing the policy have been given a warning that it is under consideration, he told journalists.

But "the secretary has not made a formal decision," he said, referring to DHS chief John Kelly.

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In March, Washington banned passengers on direct flights to the United States from 10 airports in eight countries from carrying on board laptop computers, tablets and other electronic devices larger than cellphones.

The affected airports are in Turkey, North Africa and the Middle East.

Britain followed with a similar ban applying to incoming flights from six Middle East and North African countries.

The move, which forces passengers to put their devices into checked baggage, came as counter-terror officials developed concerns that Islamic militant groups were devising bombs disguised as batteries in consumer electronics.

A bomb that blew a hole in the fuselage of a Somalian airline in February 2016, killing one person, is believed to have been built into a laptop computer carried into the passenger cabin.