WASHINGTON — A U. S. delegation is scheduled to meet with European government officials Wednesday in Brussels in advance of a “likely” ban on laptops and tablets in the cabins of trans-Atlantic flights to the United States, a Department of Homeland official said Tuesday.
Such a move could affect routes carrying as many as 65 million people a year on more than 400 daily flights and could be extended beyond Europe, DHS spokesman Dave Lapan said.
The expected action by the DHS dramatically expands a restriction introduced in March amid fears that bombs could be concealed in electronic devices brought onboard.
Lapan said the timetable for rolling out the prohibition, under discussion for weeks, was not altered by President Trump’s controversial disclosure of classified information about the persistent aviation threat last week in meetings with Russian officials at the White House.
DHS Secretary John Kelly “still has not made a final decision” on a laptop ban, Lapan said, adding that details on the “scale and scope” are still to be resolved.
The U.S. ban on in-flight laptops and other large electronics is already in place on flights departing to the United States out of eight countries in the Middle East and Africa.
President Trump’s discussion of the laptop ban with Russian officials at the White House last week led to alarms that he had released highly sensitive intelligence details to the Russians, the Washington Post reported Monday.
The White House has denied any improper release of information. Trump tweeted Tuesday that he shared the information in part for “humanitarian reasons.”
The initial U.S. prohibition on in-cabin electronics was announced March 21, and Great Britain quickly followed with a similar ban, though its list of targeted countries differed than the U.S. ban.
The move to institute the ban now in place came after authorities discovered screening vulnerabilities that could miss explosives planted in laptop computers.
In April, federal authorities confirmed that recent FBI testing uncovered the screening problems, which prompted the indefinite ban on laptops and other electronics inside commercial airline cabins on U.S.-bound flights out of eight countries in the Middle East and Africa.
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