Mossad agents obtain fake newzealand passports
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Last Update: 19/04/2004 14:34
New Zealand said demanding Israel return any fake passports
By Yossi Melman, Haaretz Correspondent, and Haaretz Service
The New Zealand government has demanded the return of any forged passports Israel may have in its possession, the New Zealand Herald reported Monday, in the wake of the arrests of Israelis Uri Kelman and Eli Cara in Auckland for allegedly trying to obtain false passports.
According to the report, Wellington's acting Foreign Affairs Minister, Jim Sutton, last week called in the acting Israeli ambassador over the case, to have the "riot act" read.
Sutton told the Herald, which last week claimed the two Israelis were Mossad agents, that Ambassador Orna Sagiv was also summoned so that he could "say on behalf of the New Zealand Government that we required a full accounting of what they were up to."
"If there are any New Zealand passports, incorrectly and improperly in their hands, we want them all returned," the paper quoted the acting minister as saying.
Kelman's attorney said Sunday that he had demanded a complete end to the legal proceedings against his client.
"The publications in the media constitute a violation of the principle of sub judice, and have undermined the chances for a proper and fair trial," said Grant Illingworth, referring to reports that his client is a member of a group of four Mossad agents in New Zealand.
Illingworth said the two Israelis were not under suspicion for espionage-related offenses.
Last week's preliminary hearing is to be followed by a procedural hearing at an undetermined date, Illingworth said. Thereafter, a decision would be made on whether to file an indictment.
"At our initiative, we approached the prosecution and asked them to speed up the proceedings. My client denies all allegations," Illingworth said.
Israel's official position is that the two men are suspected of criminal offenses. But there has been no confirmation or denial of the claim that they were operating on behalf of the Mossad or any other official state entity.