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US pilot arrested in Brazil for obscenity
( 2004-01-15 09:22) (Agencies)

An American Airlines pilot was arrested at Sao Paulo International Airport on Wednesday after making an obscene gesture while being photographed by Brazilian immigration officers, police said.

The pilot, identified as Dale Robin Hirsch, raised his middle finger at police to protest new Brazilian security measures that require U.S. citizens to be fingerprinted and photographed upon entering the South American country.

American Airlines pilot Dale Robun Hirsch (L) raises his middle finger while he was being photographed by Brazilian immigration officers upon his arrival at Sao Paulo international Airport January 14, 2003. Hisrch was arrested and the other crew members were denied entry after refusing to cooperate with security officials. [Reuters]
Brazil implemented the policy on January 1 in retaliation for a similar U.S. program that requires those foreign visitors who need visas to have their fingerprints and pictures taken on arrival in the United States.

"He made an internationally known obscene gesture when he was being photographed by the Federal Police," Federal Police agent Wagner Castilho told Reuters. He said the other crew members were denied entry after refusing to co-operate with security officials.

The incident came just one day after Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva personally appealed to U.S. President Bush to suspend visa requirements for each other's nationals and thus fingerprint checks.

Lula's request fell on deaf ears in Washington. Brazilians are among the top groups of illegal immigrants detained in the United States.

Castilho said the pilot will be charged with disobeying authority. A judge will decide whether Hirsch, 52, will be deported or tried in Brazil, Castilho added.

The remaining 11 members of the Miami-based crew were expected to be returned to the United States.

A spokesman in Sao Paulo for American Airlines said the carrier "respects the laws of the countries in which it operates," but declined further comment.

U.S. citizens have been subject to long lines at Brazilian airports since the new security measures were implemented, prompting US Secretary of State Colin Powell to complain that Americans were being discriminated against in Brazil.

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