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'No fly' passenger on BA flight

From CNN Correspondent Jeanne Meserve and Producer Mike M. Ahlers
British Airways cancelled a number of flights to the U.S. last year over security concerns.
London Heathrow Airport

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A British Airways flight with 239 passengers flying from London's Heathrow airport to New York was turned around in mid-flight after a passenger flying on a French passport was found to be on the U.S. no-fly list.

U.S. government sources said the passenger was placed on the no-fly list in late December, but that British Airways did not have the latest no-fly list.

In a statement, British Airways said the passenger on Wednesday's flight was a man.

Officials declined to identify him or say why he was on the list, which contains the names of suspected terrorists and those who help them.

It was also unclear why British Airway did not have the latest no-fly list, but a U.S. government official told CNN the method of distributing the list changed recently, and may have resulted in the lapse.

A call to the airline was not immediately returned.

Flight 175 landed back in London without incident and the passenger was taken into custody by Metropolitan Police, the airline said.

Police said they questioned and released the man at 8:40 p.m. (3:40 p.m. ET).

A U.S. government official said the man's name was on the list because of a "potential affiliation with known terrorists that were working out of Morocco."

He was "not under investigation for carrying out any terrorist act."

Nor was the man born in France, though he was carrying a legitimate French passport, the official said.

In the United States, Transportation Security Administration officials said federal authorities asked British Airways to divert the plane to Bangor, Maine, after the positive match was discovered. British Airways opted instead to return to Heathrow, officials said.

"There was never a threat to the airplane," the statement said.

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