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Russian stowaway who flew from Denmark to Los Angeles International Airport in Scandinavia faces federal crime charges

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A Russian man who boarded a flight from Denmark to Los Angeles on November 4, 2023, without a passport or ticket, remembers how he got through security in Europe, according to a federal complaint filed by the government in November. He reportedly told U.S. authorities that he had not done so. F.B.I. MoJoStudio—Getty Images

A Russian man who boarded a flight from Denmark to Los Angeles in November without a passport or ticket told U.S. authorities that he didn’t remember how he got through security in Europe, according to a federal complaint filed by the FBI. He is said to have given a statement.

Sergei Vladimirovich Ochigawa arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on November 4th on Scandinavian Airlines Flight 931 from Copenhagen. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials were unable to locate Ochigaba in the manifest or on any other incoming international flights, according to the complaint filed in Los Angeles federal court on Nov. 6.

He was charged with aircraft stowaway and pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on December 5th. The trial was scheduled for December 26th. The federal public defender representing Ochigaba, who remained in custody Tuesday, did not immediately respond to a phone message from The Associated Press seeking comment.

A flight attendant told investigators that Ochigaba was sitting in an empty seat when the plane departed. After departure, he continued to walk around the plane, changing seats and trying to talk to other passengers, who ignored him, according to the complaint.

He also “ate two meals per meal service and at one point attempted to eat chocolate that belonged to a flight attendant,” the complaint states.

Officials said Ochigaba did not have a passport or visa to enter the United States. Federal officials said in court documents that when Customs and Border Protection agents searched his bag, they found “what appeared to be Russian identification and Israeli identification.” A photo was also found on his phone that showed part of a passport with his name, date of birth and passport number, but did not include the photo.

Mr. Ochigaba “provided false and misleading information regarding his travel to the United States, including initially telling CBP that he had left his American passport on the plane,” the complaint states.

Scandinavian Airlines confirmed that “a situation involving a passenger occurred” on a flight from Copenhagen to the United States. “As this matter is being handled by the relevant authorities in the United States and Denmark, we are unable to comment further,” the airline said in a written statement.

Ochigaba told FBI agents that he had a doctorate in economics and marketing and had last worked as an economist in Russia.

“Mr. Ochigaba claimed that he had not slept in three days and did not understand what was happening,” the complaint states.

He told authorities that he may have had a plane ticket to come to the United States, but was not sure. The suspect also said he did not remember how he got past security in Copenhagen and did not explain what he was doing in the Scandinavian city, according to the complaint.

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