30/06/2010

Russian Spies 'Used Irish Passports'

It has emerged that at least one false Irish passport was used by a Russian espionage ring allegedly operating in the US.

The passport is said to have been passed to a Richard Murphy, who is among 11 people currently under trail in Manhattan Federal court, charged with being a Russian spy.

The department said yesterday it had learned one of the people arrested is alleged to have travelled on a forged Irish passport. A spokesman said it was seeking more information on the allegations.

According to reports today, Murphy, who was born in Philadelphia and lives in New Jersey, flew from Newark to Rome last February, where he was instructed to collect an Irish passport in the name of Eunan Gerard Doherty before flying on to Moscow, according to the criminal complaint filed by FBI officers.

This morning, Fine Gael Foreign Affairs Spokesman Billy Timmins TD called on Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin to clarify the situation and asked the Minister contact the Russian and US Ambassadors to Ireland in order to determine the background to the reports.
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Mr Timmins said: "This highlights once again the vulnerability of Irish passports. It's only five months since we learned that eight Irish passports were used by a Mossad unit which carried out the assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud al Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel last January.

"The Minister must state what steps he is taking to address the fraudulent use of Irish passports. He must now publish the Garda and Passport Office reports on the eight forged Irish passports."

Mr Timmins added that major questions remained about the security of Irish passports, particularly given the huge numbers of lost and missing documents. The Fiine Gael TD revealed that in 2009, over 33,000 passports were reported as lost, stolen or mislaid representing 6% of all passports issued in 2009.

"I expect the Minister to address the matter with the utmost urgency," he added.

Earlier this month, the Government expelled an official at the Israeli embassy in Dublin in protest over the use of forged Irish passports by suspects in the killing of a Hamas official in Dubai.

(DW/BMcC)

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