LOUDOUN, Va. (WUSA9) -- A custody battle between Loudoun County parents forced a Bejing-bound flight to return to Dulles Airport on Thursday.
United Airlines Flight 897 from Dulles to Beijing was ordered to return to the U.S. while flying over Canada.
The pilot announced they were turning around because of mechanical issues, one passenger told WUSA9. When the plane landed, there was an announcement for three individuals to get off the plane and go to the gate.
Wenjing 'Linda' Liu of Fairfax and her son were met by authorities when the plane landed, according to an affidavit. The child was returned to his father, William Ruifrok III, and Liu was taken into custody, officials said.
The father had notified the FBI that Liu was attempting to take their son to China without his permission. Liu is not allowed to take the child out of the country without the father's permission, according to a custody agreement.
Liu had emailed the child's father to say that her grandmother was dying and that "we gotta fly back asap," according to an affidavit.
The father told Liu that their son couldn't go, but Liu said she already booked a flight and they were leaving immediately, according to an affidavit.
Liu admitted to violating the custody order. She appeared in federal court in Virginia at 2 p.m.
She faces attempted international parental kidnapping, according to an affidavit.
Had the plane not turned around, this could have become a major international custody battle. The U.S. only has custody treaties with 90 countries, and China is not one of them.