The Seattle Times
Kou Wei Chiu, the 31-year-old doctor who allegedly phoned in three bomb threats to try to delay the departure of a flight he had missed at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Wednesday, will remain in Seattle at least until Monday while a federal judge considers whether to let him return home to Nashville, Tenn.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Vince Lombardi argued that Chiu should be detained in Seattle until he stands trial because of the violent nature of the threat, and because Chiu is a flight risk.
Chiu has no connection to Seattle because he was here on a business trip, Lombardi said, and Chiu is originally from Taiwan and his father still lives there.
Peter Friedman, Chiu’s attorney, said Chiu has strong community ties in Nashville, provides medical services to under-served members of the city’s Spanish-speaking population and has no criminal history.
“This is something completely out of character for Mr. Chiu,” Friedman said of the bomb threats. Friedman said Chiu had been without his antidepressant medication Effexor for several days prior to the incident.
Magistrate Judge Monica Benton said she wants more information about how Chiu would travel back to Nashville and what type of medical treatment he would receive.
Chiu has been charged with one count of providing false information or threats about an explosive device on an airplane.
Feds charge Bellevue doctor with airline bomb threats — (The Tennesean)
By KATE HOWARD, Staff Writer
A local doctor who works in a Spanish-speaking medical practice is in federal custody after he admitted calling in three bomb threats to a Northwest Airlines jetliner, prompting the plane’s return to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Wednesday.
Kou Wei Chiu of Bellevue is scheduled to appear in federal court for a detention hearing today on a charge of making a false threat against an aircraft. He faces up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
Chiu graduated from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 2003 and works at Medicos Para La Familia on Nolensville Pike. Workers at the medical clinic declined to comment.
According to the federal complaint against Chiu filed Thursday, Chiu checked luggage on to Northwest Airlines flight 980 under the name of a co-worker on Wednesday, but he tried to board the plane after the door was closed and wasn’t allowed to enter.
Chiu admitted using a pay phone to call 911 and made two more calls when he saw the plane was still leaving the gate, according to the federal complaint.
He told airport police he was on anti-depressant medication and had been without it for a few days, although he said he did take the medication on the day of his flight.
Passengers remained on the plane for more than an hour while police tried to determine how extensive a security sweep was needed.
About 3 p.m., passengers were taken off the plane and all luggage was removed so bomb-sniffing dogs could search for any traces of explosives, airport spokeswoman Terri-Ann Betancourt said.
Police confirmed there was no bomb on board hours later, after bomb-sniffing dogs searched the plane, Betancourt said.
Northwest Airlines estimated the losses in fuel and other expenses from the grounded flight at $70,000.