Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Watch The Birdie!

From the Sun-Sentinel:

Miami-bound pilot, crew held in Brazil over obscene gesture at security check

SAO PAULO, Brazil — An American Airlines pilot was arrested by federal police Wednesday after making an obscene gesture when being photographed at the airport as part of a newly imposed entry requirement for U.S. citizens, federal police said.

Ten crewmembers from the airplane arriving from Miami were also detained, police said.

Brazil imposed requirements that Americans be fingerprinted and photographed at entry points in response the similar rules in the United States for citizens of Brazil and other countries whose citizens need visas to enter.

The pilot, Dale Robbin Hirsh, lifted his middle finger while undergoing the new security process, said Francisco Baltazar da Silva, chief of Sao Paulo’s federal police.

The pilot was taken to a federal courthouse, where he could be charged with showing disrespect to authorities, a crime in Brazil punishable by between six months and two years in jail or a fine, da Silva said. He could also be deported without any further legal action.

American Airlines spokeswoman Martha Pantin said the incident was the result of a misunderstanding.

The misunderstanding was the result of Capt. Hirsh not knowing how to say “bite me” in Portugese. And how about that Brazilian law against “showing disrespect to authorities?” Good thing we don’t have that here. At least not yet…