FBI to examine possible balloon debris recovered by Alaska fisherman

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(NEW YORK) — The FBI will examine what may be debris from a balloon found by fishermen off the coast of Alaska, multiple sources familiar with the matter said Friday.

The fishing vessel carrying the debris is expected to return to shore sometime this weekend, sources said, at which time the FBI will get its first look at what was recovered.

“The FBI is aware of debris found off the coast of Alaska by a commercial fishing vessel. We will work with our partners to assist with the logistics of the debris recovery,” the agency said in a statement.

Officials cautioned that because they do not have possession of the materials, it is too early to make any determination about what was recovered, where it came from and whether it part of any foreign surveillance operation.

Once the FBI gets custody of the materials, other agencies within the U.S. government will likely be consulted about next steps.

On Jan. 28, 2023, a Chinese surveillance balloon entered U.S. airspace north of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, according to a senior military official, before being eventually shot down on Feb. 4, 2023, off the coast of South Carolina.

The prospect of China spying on the U.S. undetected created a political firestorm.

Sources said no decision has been made about taking the materials to the FBI lab at Quantico, Virginia or anywhere else.

Such a decision would only be made after a preliminary examination of the collected debris, they said.

The discovery of the possible balloon was first reported by CNN.

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