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Bush Plane Stowaway Says Is Correspondent

July 14, 2003

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) _ A man who stowed away on a chartered plane for reporters covering President Bush’s Africa trip claims he is a correspondent for a South African youth project, police say.

The man, who is believed to be South African, had no identification on him when he was arrested Friday in Uganda after a White House aide notified U.S. Secret Service that he had joined reporters traveling with the president.

During questioning by Ugandan police, he identified himself as Patrick Fello Litheko and said he covers AIDS issues for a South African organization called the Gauteng Youth Development Project, police spokesman Asuman Mugenyi said Saturday.

But Khulekani Ntshangase, a spokesman for the youth wing of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress party, said Sunday he did not believe the organization was registered in South Africa.

The stowaway told police he lost his passport covering Bush’s visit to Botswana on Thursday, Mugenyi said.

Still, he was able to board the United Airlines Boeing 747 that took journalists, White House staff and Secret Service agents from Pretoria, South Africa, to Bush’s next stop in Entebbe, Uganda.

``He has not been very cooperative in releasing information and that is why we are still holding him to find his motive,″ Mugenyi said. ``We are not convinced that he is telling the truth.″

Mugenyi said the man could be charged with being an illegal alien or he could be deported.

Bush spent four hours in this East African nation Friday as part of his five-nation tour of Africa.

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