U.S. swimmers Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger detained at Rio airport over armed robbery story involving Ryan Lochte
Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger
American swimmers Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger were detained at the Rio de Janeiro International Airport as they were attempting to fly back home to the US. The two originally cleared customs but were prevented from leaving the country due to an order given by a Judge for their passports to be seized and for them to remain in the country to clear their inconsistent story about being robbed by fake policemen at gunpoint.
The United States Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky in a statement said:
“We can confirm that Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were removed from their flight to the United States by Brazilian authorities”. “We are gathering further information.”
The two were part of the incident in which teammates Ryan Lochte and Jimmy Feigen filed a police report alleging that they were robbed at gunpoint.
The report further heightened security concerns, but Brazilian officials started questioning Lochte’s account of what happened in the past couple of days due to what they called 'inconsistencies in the stories'.
Wednesday morning, a Brazilian judge ordered Lochte and Feigen to surrender their passports as part of an investigation into the robbery claim.
Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger
But Lochte had already returned to the United States.
Feigen is still in Brazil and it is unclear if he is in Brazilian custody as well as the other two swimmers. A police source said Feigen had been detained by police before he boarded the plane, Reuters reports.
NBC claims Feigen checked in for a flight online but never showed up. There are no charges facing the three men, according to police sources. Representatives from the US consulate arrived at the airport shortly after the swimmers were held.
In a phone interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer, Lochte stood by the majority of his story of what happened in the early hours of Sunday morning. He insisted he was robbed, and that a gun was pointed at him – although he backed away from his previous assertion that the gun was pressed against his forehead.
'We're victims in this and we're happy that we're safe.' Lochte backed off some of his earlier assertions. He now says the taxi wasn't pulled over but that they were robbed after making a stop at a gas station.
Lochte told Lauer that his police interview when he filed his report was “casual” and “friendly,” and that the authorities never doubted his truthfulness.
'I wouldn't make up a story like this nor would the others — as a matter of fact we all feel it makes us look bad,' said Lauer, quoting Lochte.
Lochte said they didn't remember most of what happened because they were all intoxicated.
The investigation intensified on Wednesday as the swimmers started heading home to the U.S., and Brazilian judge Keyla Blanc De Cnop ordered the seizure of Lochte and Feigen's passports. The judge said the two Olympic teammates had given contradictory accounts of the alleged robbery.
Lochte told police in Rio there was one armed robber, while Feigen gave a statement claiming there were more, one of whom had a gun.
The judge also said that based on the CCTV footage they watched, all 4 of the US swimmers looked very casual and unafraid when they returned to the Olympic village. Adding that they didn't look like people who had just been robbed at gunpoint. He said that the CCTV footage also showed that they had something that looked like their wallets on them when they went back to their rooms in Rio.
Source: NBC/ Daily Mail/ Reuters