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Man With Suspicious Shoes Detained

April 10, 2002

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A man was detained briefly Wednesday at the San Francisco airport after batteries and wires were spotted in his shoes.

The shoes were blown up by police, even after it was determined they were not dangerous and contained no explosives. The shoes apparently were designed to heat up and keep the wearer’s feet warm, said airport spokesman Ron Wilson.

The man had arrived as part of a tour from Shanghai to New York. The suspicious shoes were spotted in his carry-on luggage as he tried to pass through a gate in an United Airlines terminal to catch a connecting flight, Wilson said.

Wilson said the man speaks little English and could not explain what the shoes were for or how to disconnect the batteries.

Police took the shoes to an isolated area to examine them, he said.

Wilson said a preliminary background check of the man turned up nothing suspicious. The man’s name was not released.

The area around the gate was cleared while the shoes were moved, but airport operations were back to normal by mid-morning.

Airports have been on guard against the possibility of a shoe bomb after an alleged al-Qaida-trained man was arrested in December on suspicion of trying to blow up a trans-Atlantic jetliner with explosives hidden in his sneakers.

Update hourly