New Zealand has asked Israel to explain why two men reported by a local newspaper to be Mossad secret service agents were trying to obtain a false New Zealand passports, Prime Minister Helen Clark confirmed on Saturday.
"The case has set off alarm bells that Mossad spies may be masquerading as harmless New Zealand travelers abroad," the New Zealand Herald said. Clark refused to comment directly on the case in which two Israelis appeared in court in Auckland on Friday.
But she issued a statement saying: "The government takes seriously any action which challenges the integrity of the New Zealand passport system.
"The people involved in this case are Israeli citizens and the matter has been raised directly with the Israeli government," Clark said. "There will be a strong and public response to this matter once the court action has concluded."
Urie Moshe Kelman, 30, and Eli Kara, 50, appeared in Auckland District Court Friday. They denied three joint charges including attempting to obtain a New Zealand passport and participating in an organized crime group to obtain a false passport.
Details that emerged in court indicated two other men were involved. Zeev William Barkan, 37, has fled New Zealand and authorities concede they would not know where to find him. A fourth man is believed to be in New Zealand but police say the others refuse to identify him. (Albawaba.com)
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