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Ex-TSA employee pleads guilty to hate crime

MINNEAPOLIS, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- A former Transportation Security Administration employee in Minneapolis pleaded guilty to a hate crime Wednesday in assaulting an elderly Somali man.

TSA employees provide security at the nation's airports.

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The former TSA employee, George Thompson, 64, pleaded guilty in federal court to violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

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The U.S. Justice Department said information presented during the hearing showed Thompson targeted the 83-year-old Somali because the elderly man had a red beard, causing Thompson to believe the man was a Muslim and an African immigrant.

Thompson admitted he assaulted the man solely because he was Muslim and Somali. Thompson yelled during the assault that the victim should go back to Africa, the department said.

Thompson faces up to 10 years in prison.

The department gave no other details.

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