The hated stormtroopers of the US Transportation Security Administration earned themselves another little bit of public ire over the weekend, as they briefly held up the actor who played Chewbacca in the Star Wars movies over concerns that he was tooled up with a light-sabre.
However it turned out that in fact brobdingnagian 7-foot-plus thespian Peter Mayhew only had a large walking stick, fashioned to resemble the signature weapon of the Jedi Knights. Even so, TSA operatives in Denver feared that the light-swordstick might nonetheless be a dangerous weapon suitable for terrorist activities, and pulled Mayhew out of the airport security queue.
"Giant man need giant cane," tweeted Mayhew, forlornly.
This led to the usual social-media brouhaha, with the internet falling over itself to offer support for Mayhew and opprobrium for the TSA.
However the federal security troopers say they had actually decided to allow the enormous actor and his light-sabre on their way before Twitter had managed to get its boots on.
"Because of the unusual weight of the passenger's cane, a security officer alerted a supervisor. Less than five minutes later the passenger and cane were cleared to travel. Social media played no role in the determination," agency mouthpieces told the AP.
Mayhew was born in London but nowadays lives in Texas. He became a US citizen in 2005. Apart from his movie portrayals of Han Solo's vast, hairy and inarticulate co-pilot, he also reportedly had a role as a minotaur golem in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. ®