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Justin Casquejo, 16, of Weehawken, New Jersey, was carrying his camera when he crawled through a small hole in the construction fence encircling the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan shortly after 4am on Sunday morning, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey said.
He then clambered up scaffolding to enter the building, took an elevator to the 88th floor and climbed stairs to the tower's antenna, which rises 1,776 feet above the ground.
Joseph Pentangelo, a spokesman for the Port Authority, the public agency that owns the building, declined to directly address reports that the guard assigned to protect the skyscraper's upper floors was asleep at the time.
"I'm going to characterize it as 'inattentive'", he said, adding that the guard had since been fired.
Port Authority police arrested Casquejo inside the building about two hours after he first entered, Pentangelo said.
Casquejo said on his Facebook page he was keen on the running and jumping sport of parkour and posted pictures of himself posing with the World Trade Center in the background, The New York Post reported. His Facebook page appeared to have been removed on Thursday morning.
Casquejo was charged with two counts of trespass and arraigned on Monday before being released, according to the Manhattan district attorney's office.
One count of criminal trespass in the third degree carries a maximum sentence of 90 days in prison; one count of trespass carries a maximum sentence of 15 days in prison.
Casquejo could not immediately be reached for comment. A lawyer representing him declined to comment.
The Port Authority has spent millions of dollars on security measures for the skyscraper, which is due to open later this year and which replaces the Twin Towers that were destroyed by Al Qaeda hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001.
Joseph Dunn, the Port Authority's chief security officer, said in a statement that the agency takes security breaches "extremely seriously".
"We continue to reassess our security posture at the site and we are constantly working to make this site as secure as possible," the statement said.