SAN JOSE, Calif. » A relative of a 15-year-old boy who survived a 5 1/2-hour flight in a jet’s wheel well says Hawaii officials won’t allow the boy’s father to see him, a newspaper reported Friday.
Mukhtar Guled, a cousin of the boy’s stepmother, said it’s not clear whether Abdulahi Yusuf will be allowed to bring his son home, the San Jose Mercury News reported.
"He could not see him. They won’t let him see him or visit him or talk to him," Guled said.
Hawaii state officials did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment late Friday from The Associated Press. Earlier, a spokeswoman said the state wouldn’t comment on the case of the teenager, Yahya Abdi.
A spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in San Francisco, which has been speaking with media for the boy’s family, did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment Friday night.
Guled said he doesn’t know how Yusuf would be able to bring the boy home.
"They won’t allow him to see him. How can he bring him back," Guled said.
Abdi has been in the custody of child welfare officials at a Honolulu hospital since boarding the flight April 20 in San Jose, California and landing in Maui. Hawaii officials had been caring for him after FBI and Transportation Security Administration questioned him and determined he was doing nothing more sinister than running away from home.
Abdi hopped a fence at Mineta San Jose International Airport after an argument at home, then climbed up the landing gear into the wheel well of a Boeing 767. He survived the flight at 35,000 feet despite freezing cold and a lack of oxygen.
The incident raised questions about security at the large airports, where security cameras recorded Abdi making his way to the Hawaiian Airlines plane even though he wasn’t discovered until he climbed down from the wheel well in Maui.
Abdi’s journey also spotlighted the personal family drama of a Somali immigrant, the son of divorced parents who missed his mother and struggled to adjust to life in the United States, according to people who know his family.
Abdi’s mother, Ubah Mohammed Abdule, lives in a refugee camp in eastern Ethiopia. She told The Associated Press her son wanted to see her but couldn’t because his father told him she was dead and didn’t allow contact.
Hawaii state officials acknowledged Wednesday that Yusuf had arrived in Hawaii, but were tightlipped about how they would proceed. Yusuf said previously he looked forward to bringing the boy home, but declined to give details of if and how they would be reunited.