US seizes items on Soviet airliner

US Customs agents delayed the departure of a Soviet airliner from Dulles International Airport Tuesday and seized "some equipment" from passenger baggage , the State Department said.

The search delayed the takeoff of the Moscow-bound plane for about four hours and yielded equipment that was held for inspection by technical export licensing officers.

Earlier, a spokesman had said three "defense related" items -- any of a wide variety of things banned for export to the Soviet Union without a license -- were taken into custody. But later he hedged on the number and said "some equipment" had been detained.

"The items found were not licensed," he said. "They needed to be licensed or documented. Clearly, this was illegal."

A Customs spokesman said he could not describe the material taken from the plane until the investigation was complete He said he thought the items were "apparently electronic, but I do not know for sure."

Customs officials were accompanied by FBI agents in ordering the plane's takeoff delayed and its passengers and their baggage unloaded.

The State Department confirmed the incident after Tass, the Soviet news agency, reported it, calling it "an act of i nternational terrorism."

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