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United Airlines passenger hid camera in first-class bathroom, FBI says

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A passenger on a Spirit Airlines flight captured footage of what he said is a bat flying through the aircraft.
USA TODAY

The FBI has accused a Malaysian man of placing a camera in the first-class bathroom of a United Airlines flight earlier this year from San Diego to Houston.

A female first class passenger went to the bathroom mid-flight on May 5 and saw “an item with a blue blinking light,” according to court documents filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The woman, unnamed in the document, wasn’t sure if what she found was part of the aircraft but brought it to the flight crew.

Houston United Airlines Corporate Security determined the item in question was a video recording device. “After viewing the information on the device, a male was caught on video installing the device in the first class lavatory of this particular flight,” per the document. While the man’s face couldn’t be identified in the video, his clothing and jewelry were visible. Footage of passengers boarding the aircraft in San Diego, and the man leaving the aircraft in Houston, helped the FBI track him down: Choon Ping Lee, a Malaysian citizen who works for Halliburton, an oil field service company. He was formally charged on August 5.

The FBI also uncovered there were deleted files on the camera, including “another aircraft bathroom/lavatory where at least two women/victims were caught on camera. After further review and research, it was determined the deleted files were of the Emirates Aircraft Lavatory. One of the women/victims caught on camera was wearing an Emirates flight crew uniform.”

Regarding the May 5 flight incident, United is cooperating as the FBI investigates.

“The safety and security of our customers is our top priority,” United spokesperson Kimberly Gibbs told USA TODAY in a statement. “When our crew was alerted of this issue they acted quickly to notify the appropriate authorities. We will fully cooperate and support this investigation as it moves forward.”

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