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The Honolulu Advertiser
Updated at 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Four Honolulu airport screeners put on leave

By Peter Boylan and Rod Ohira
Advertiser Staff Writers

Four screeners with the federal Transportation Security Administration were put on leave yesterday on suspicion of stealing money and other items from the suitcases of Japanese tourists, a TSA official said.

The official declined to be identified because Department of Homeland Security policy calls for all media inquiries to be forwarded to Washington.

Sidney Hayakawa, federal security chief at Honolulu Airport, said yesterday he could not confirm or deny any details and declined further comment.

A state sheriff's deputy said the FBI did not alert the sheriffs about the investigation.

Sheriff's duties at the airport include policing in a manner similar to HPD's role in Honolulu.

The FBI could not be reached for comment last night.

Federal officials and the state attorney general's office reportedly have been conducting an investigation into allegations that a group of TSA employees were rummaging through luggage of Japanese visitors.

The Japanese visitors evidently were targeted because of their reluctance to file complaints and the language barrier that made complaints difficult to follow.