A Chinese man who boarded a Vancouver-bound flight disguised as an elderly white man must remain in detention while his identity is confirmed, an immigration adjudicator has ruled.

The young asylum-seeker boarded an Air Canada flight in Hong Kong wearing glasses, a brown cardigan sweater, a leather flat cap and a silicone mask, but removed the disguise while the plane was in the air.

He was taken into custody by border officials and made a claim for refugee status when he landed in Canada on Oct. 29.

He had his first immigration hearing on Wednesday, and was ordered to remain in detention for an additional 30 days while his identity is established.

Before the hearing, the Immigration and Refugee Board adjudicator ruled that members of the media will be permitted to attend his refugee hearings.

Dan McLeod, the lawyer for the asylum seeker, had claimed the Sing Tao newspaper may have connections with communist party officials in China. McLeod says his client's safety and security is the main concern in banning the media.

But media lawyer David Sutherland argued that the suggestion that some journalists are foreign spies for China is insulting and unfounded.

Incident under investigation

Air Canada and border officials are investigating how the masked man was allowed to board the plane.

The incident is detailed in a confidential Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) alert obtained by the American news network CNN.

The alert says border officials believe the young man got onto the plane with nothing more than an Aeroplan card and a boarding pass that belonged to a 55-year-old American man. Neither piece of ID would reflect dates of birth.

However, Air Canada has said that reports the masked man used only an Aeroplan card to board are "totally unfounded."

CBSA officials wrote that the young man was observed to be an elderly Caucasian man "who appeared to have young looking hands."

During the flight, he went into the washroom and emerged as "an Asian-looking male who appeared to be in his early 20s."

With files from The Canadian Press