Turkish national behind in-flight scare sentenced

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The 26-year-old Turkish national who caused a mid-flight scare on a Honolulu-bound flight this summer was sentenced Monday to six months behind bars.

Anil Uskanli had pleaded guilty to interfering with a flight crew, and has been in custody since May.

Authorities are counting his time served since his arrest, but it's likely Uskanli will be deported rather than being freed once he completes his sentence.

He was also ordered to pay $8,500 in restitution to American Airlines.

"This is a situation where a lot of people were really scared and even though it was attributable to his mental health, it's important to make sure that kind of thing doesn't happen again," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Morgan Early.

During today's hearing, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson said reports show that Uskanli is biopolar and schizophrenic. But he said he is not a terror threat.

Uskanli said he was ill on board the flight, hallucinating and trying to catch a butterfly when he reportedly charged toward the cockpit door.

The security scare prompted U.S. Pacific Command to scramble F-22 Raptors from the Hawaii Air National Guard. The jets escorted the American Airlines flight to Honolulu's airport.

On the flight, passengers and crew also subdued Uskanli and taped him to a seat.

The FBI says Uskanli was agitated and apparently intoxicated when he boarded the flight to Honolulu in Los Angeles.

Several hours into the flight, passengers and authorities said, Uskanli spurred the scare when he allegedly threw himself up against a beverage cart and tried to force his way into the first-class cabin.

Passengers said the man had a blanket on his head, was carrying a laptop, and didn't say anything as he pushed forward.

Flight attendants, an off-duty Los Angeles police officer and other passengers were able to stop the man and secure him in a seat, and no injuries were reported.

After the incident, the captain locked down the flight and alerted authorities, and PACOM scrambled the F-22s.

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