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New zealand passport scam canadian twist

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New Zealand passport scam takes Canadian twist
Herb Keinon, THE JERUSALEM POST Aug. 4, 2004


The New Zealand passport flap is thickening, with Canada trying to determine whether one of the Israelis allegedly involved in the scam who managed to leave New Zealand is traveling on a stolen Canadian passport.

Canadian Foreign Ministry spokesman Reynald Doiron confirmed to The Jerusalem Post that the Canadian police and other federal agencies are investigating whether Ze'ev Barkan, one of the men New Zealand suspects of involvement in the scandal but who has reportedly left the country, is traveling on a stolen Canadian passport issued to a Kevin William Hunter.

The investigation holds the seeds of more diplomatic embarrassment for Israel, since Israel promised Canada in 1997 after two Mossad agents carrying Canadian passports were caught trying to kill Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Jordan that it would no longer use Canadian passports.

Doiron said that at this stage the police are just trying to verify facts, and that it is "too early" to say whether this will have any impact on Canadian-Israeli bilateral ties. He said that the Canadian government wants to determine what happened before taking the issue up with the Israeli authorities.

New Zealand alleges that Barkan was part of the scheme in New Zealand to fraudulently obtain a passport. Two men involved in the scheme Uriel Kelman, 30, and Eli Cara, 50 -- were convicted last month and sentenced to six months sentences. They are appealing the conviction.

New Zealand authorities maintain that Kelman, Cara, Barkan and a fourth man still at large are Mossad agents.

Israeli government officials are not commenting on the case, and have not taken responsibility for any of those involved.

According to a Canadian Press newswire dispatch, Canadian officials are looking into a report Barkan was recently seen in Pyongyang, North Korea, where he had flown from Beijing using Hunter's passport. The Canadian passport was reported stolen in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou in mid-April.

The Canadian investigation of Barkan follows another investigation Canada carried out last week to determine why Kelman used a Canadian passport, rather than an Israeli one, to enter New Zealand in 1999. During his last visit to New Zealand, Kelman entered the country using his Israeli passport.

Doiron said that the Canadian authorities have concluded that Kelman is a "legitimate citizen," a dual Canadian-Israeli national, and that the Canadian passport he held was "genuine."




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