A Turkish man accused of causing a flight disturbance that prompted fighter jets to escort the plane to Honolulu is planning to plead guilty to interfering with a flight crew, his defense attorney said Wednesday.
Anil Uskanli is expected to enter the plea in federal court in Honolulu on Tuesday, his lawyer Richard Sing said. A judge last week ruled that Uskanli is mentally competent for trial and must be held without bail because he poses a danger to the community.
Uskanli tried to get to the front of the plane during the American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu in May, according to court documents. Crew members feared his laptop contained explosives.
A flight attendant blocked his path to first class with a drink cart, and he was duct-taped to his seat until the plane landed. The Hawaii National Guard scrambled two fighter jets to escort the plane to Hawaii.
Uskanli raised red flags at Los Angeles International Airport before the flight took off: He had purchased a ticket at an airline counter in the middle of the night with no luggage and had been arrested after opening a door to a restricted area.
Because Uskanli’s student visa has been revoked, he faces deportation to Turkey.
A federal judge in Hawaii ordered a mental competency evaluation after Sing requested it.
The defense attorney tried to have a hearing on the issue closed to the public. But The Associated Press and other media objected, and Sing later withdrew his motion.