When finally confronted over the weekend, Aditya Singh told police he was “scared to go home due to COVID,” prosecutors said in a Sunday bond hearing, according to the Associated Press. During his extended layover, which began in October, he survived in part on food given to him by other passengers, grew out his beard, lectured travelers about Buddhism and Hinduism, and attempted to evade scrutiny by wearing an airport worker’s identification badge.
The episode has inspired comparisons to “The Terminal,” the 2004 film starring Tom Hanks, while also raising questions about the airport’s security measures.
“So if I understand you correctly, you’re telling me that an unauthorized, nonemployee individual was allegedly living within a secure part of the O’Hare airport terminal from Oct. 19, 2020, to Jan. 16, 2021, and was not detected?” Cook County Circuit Judge Susana Ortiz asked during the Sunday court proceedings, according to the Chicago Tribune. “I want to understand you correctly.”