Allegheny County

Lawyer for man accused of threat at Pittsburgh International Airport says it was misunderstanding

PITTSBURGH — A man who police say made terroristic threats at Pittsburgh International Airport is fighting to be released from jail, after a district judge issued him an ROR bond.

Judge Edward Borkowski will ultimately make the decision.

Around two dozen of Hossein Dehnavifard’s family members and friends came from Philadelphia and Erie to the Allegheny County Courthouse to support him, after police say he made threats that grounded an American Airlines plane on Wednesday.

“It’s unbelievable, and I think it’s all a misunderstanding. English is not his first language, and maybe the person didn’t understand properly because of his accent,” Hossein’s friend, Maryam Saeedi said.

He was in court after Magistrate Xander Orenstein initially said Hossein could be released on his own recognizance, which means he could be released from jail with posting bail.

To prevent that from happening, a motions hearing was added to his case.

An American Airlines gate attendant testified that Hossein was late to the gate for his flight to Philly, which would eventually head to Iran.

When he missed the time to board, the attendant testified that Hossein said that the plane couldn’t leave without him because he had a bomb in his luggage.

“You shouldn’t say that word in an airport because I think people get upset about it, but it’s a misunderstanding,” Saeedi said.

His defense attorney is arguing he should be released on house arrest, and that he’s not a flight risk. He also thinks there was a miscommunication.

“I think things got lost in translation. He speaks with a heavy accent, so I think possibly they misunderstood what he was saying. I’m not trying to downgrade what happened, but there are always two sides to every story. His side has yet to be told,” Hossein’s defense attorney Turahn Jenkins said.

The Chief Deputy of the Sheriff’s Office testified that if Hossein was released, and gave up his passport, it’s very easy to get a new one, and he would have access to leaving the country.

We spoke with the County Sheriff about the fact that District Judge Orenstein issued the ROR bond, to begin with.

“I can’t speak to the district judge’s decision, but I believe there should be adequate consideration for foreign nationals who can leave the country in the interest of securing future court proceedings,” Sheriff Kevin Kraus said.

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