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Gatwick airport drones incident: Couple released without charges

Police take a pair into custody after drones flew too close to the London airport and caused a nightmare for holiday travelers forcing flight cancellations. But they're "no longer suspects."

London Gatwick Airport Closed After Drones Spotted In Airspace

Passengers stranded at Gatwick.

Athanasios Gioumpasis/Getty Images

Update, Dec. 23: The two people arrested in connection with the drone incursions at Gatwick have been released without charge, Sussex police said in a statement Sunday. "Both people have fully co-operated with our inquiries and I am satisfied that they are no longer suspects," Sussex Police Detective Chief Superintendent Jason Tingley said in the statement. "Our inquiry continues at a pace to locate those responsible." Gatwick Airport Limited is offering a £50,000 reward (about $63,000) for info leading to the arrest and conviction of those behind the drone incident, according to the statement, and anyone with information should provide it, with full anonymity, via the Crimestoppers website.

The drone-caused chaos at London's Gatwick airport has resulted in two arrests.

Sussex police said Saturday that they'd taken a man and woman into custody in connection with a "criminal use of drones" that disrupted services at the UK's second-busiest airport.

Gatwick's airfield was closed for more than a day after drones were spotted nearby on Wednesday night local time. It reopened Friday morning before being shut down again briefly after another drone sighting. The closures caused problems for tens of thousands of holiday travelers, as flights were canceled, delayed or diverted.

In a statement Saturday about the arrests, Sussex police Superintendent James Collis said the department's investigation is ongoing.

"Every line of enquiry will remain open to us until we are confident that we have mitigated further threats to the safety of passengers," Collis said. He urged anyone with information about the drone incidents to contact Sussex police and said the department continued to urge "the public, passengers and the wider community around Gatwick" to "be vigilant."

The police said there aren't any indications that the drone events were "terror related," CBS News reported, but in a tweet Friday, the department called the drone incursions a "deliberate and serious act."

Gatwick's CEO said the same in a Thursday statement, labeling the incident "a highly targeted activity ... designed to close the airport and bring maximum disruption in the run up to Christmas." Police tweeted on Thursday that the drones appeared to be industrial models.

The 47-year-old man and 54-year-old woman were arrested late Friday in the town of Crawley, where they're from, police said.

In a statement on its site Saturday, Gatwick said it planned to run a full schedule of flights over the weekend but said it expected some further cancellations and delays, and it advised passengers to check with airlines before heading to the airport.

First published Dec. 22, 11:25 a.m. PT
Update, 11:46 a.m.: Adds mention of tweets by Sussex police and statement from Gatwick CEO concerning deliberate nature of incident.
Update Dec. 23 at 11:49 p.m. PT: As mentioned at top of story, adds info about the couple being released without charge.

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