U.S., Britain curb electronics on flights from Middle East, North Africa

Wed Mar 22, 2017 7:30am GMT
 

By David Shepardson and Kylie MacLellan

WASHINGTON/LONDON (Reuters) - The United States and Britain on Tuesday imposed restrictions on carry-on electronic devices on planes coming from certain airports in Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and North Africa in response to unspecified security threats.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said passengers travelling from a specific list of airports could not bring into the main cabin devices larger than a mobile phone such as tablets, portable DVD players, laptops and cameras.

Instead, such items must be in checked baggage.

Although civil liberties groups raised concerns that U.S. President Donald Trump was seeking another limit on movement after a travel ban from Muslim-majority countries was challenged in the courts, Britain took similar steps.

A spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said there would be curbs on electronic items in the cabin on flights from six countries in the Middle East. The foreign office said the measures would be implemented by March 25.

The moves were prompted by reports that militant groups want to smuggle explosive devices inside electronic gadgets.

The ban would continue for the "foreseeable future," a U.S. government official said on Tuesday, adding that it was possible it could be extended to other airports and other countries.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer declined to talk about the intelligence that prompted the new steps or explain why some countries were left off the list.   Continued...

Travelers walk past an Emirates Airlines ticket desk at JFK International Airport in New York, U.S., March 21, 2017.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
 
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