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US pilot faces YouTube video probe

US government authorities are investigating a pilot who posted videos on YouTube criticising what he said were security lapses at San Francisco International Airport.

Don Werno of law firm Werno and Associates said the Transportation Security Administration was looking into whether his client revealed sensitive information.

The pilot remains employed with a major airline, but he has withdrawn from a programme that trains flight crew to help prevent hijackings after authorities confiscated his government-issued firearm, Mr Werno said. He declined to release the pilot's name, citing concerns about the man's job.

The TSA would not answer questions but said in a statement it was responding to the situation and was "confident" of security at San Francisco Airport.

"As to access control at SFO, TSA is confident in the tools the airport has implemented and reminds passengers there are security measures in place that are both seen and unseen," the statement said.

The pilot posted several videos on YouTube in late November or early December that showed ground crew members swiping security cards and entering secure areas without undergoing any screening. He notes in the footage that pilots undergo intense screening, but then have access to axe-like weapons that are stored in the cockpit in case of emergencies.

The sixth and final video was of air marshals and sheriff's deputies who came to the pilot's home earlier this month to seize his gun. The pilot had been allowed to carry the weapon on board as part of a programme after the September 11 2001 attacks that trains certain flight crew to serve as "federal flight deck officers" to prevent hijackings.

Mr Werno said his client was upset about what he felt was lax security for ground crew, including baggage handlers and caterers, working at the airport while flight crews and passengers were subject to intense screening.

"The airport should be a security zone where everything that comes into the airport perimeter is checked," he said. The pilot removed the videos from YouTube after the TSA objected.

Mr Werno said that what his client filmed was not sensitive and could have been shot by any passenger in a taxiing plane.

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