Britain, Ireland probe fake passport link to Russian 'spies'
Britain and Ireland are investigating reports that fake British and Irish passports were used by members of an alleged Russian spy ring arrested in the US, officials said Tuesday.
London and Dublin said they were checking after US officials announced the arrest of 10 "deep-cover" suspects accused of infiltrating policymaking and reporting back to Moscow.
"There is a reference to a false Irish passport in an FBI affidavit filed in connection with the Russian spy ring," an Irish foreign ministry spokesman told AFP. "We are trying to get official clarification of this report," he added.
The Irish spokesman said "the firm position of the government in regard to the fraudulent use of Irish passports is a matter of public record."
In London a Foreign Office spokeswoman, asked about reports that fake British passports were involved, said only: "We're looking into it."
Russia swiftly demanded an explanation of the US charges, which read like the synopsis of a Cold War thriller with encrypted messages, false identities, and tales of buried money and hidden video cameras.
Earlier this month, the Irish 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.
Britain announced the expulsion of an Israeli diplomat in March over the Hamas affair.
© 2010 AFP