Flight engineer detained, sent south

Posted: Tuesday, December 17, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A Polar Air Cargo flight engineer was detained by federal authorities Nov. 30 at Elmendorf Air Force Base for falsifying U.S. citizenship documents.

Michael Arya, 47, a native of Iran and a Canadian citizen, gave ''fictitious'' information on federal employment forms, said Robert Eddy, who heads the Immigration and Naturalization Service in Anchorage.

Arya had been part of a flight crew hauling cargo between military bases in Japan and Anchorage, Eddy said. A customs agent at Elmendorf became suspicious of Arya's citizenship status and notified the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Eddy said.

Customs officials in Anchorage would not comment on the matter.

Eddy said Arya had a Florida drivers license and a Canadian passport in his possession. Since Arya is a native of Iran, he was ''subject to enhanced inspection procedures'' under federal rules, Eddy said.

No violations were issued. Arya was put on a passenger flight to Canada, Eddy said.

Kristine Leathers, a Polar Air Cargo spokesperson in Long Beach, Calif., said Arya has ''been removed from duty.''

''We only hire U.S. citizens,'' Leathers said.

She said the company is investigating the matter. Meantime, she said, ''He has no access to aircraft in any way.''

Leathers said the airline is reviewing all of its personnel records and employee citizenship documents. A similar audit had been done in the last year, but Arya was on ''furlough'' when the inspection took place, she said.

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