A murky tale of bugs and spy claims

By Audrey Young

The passport scam by two "citizens" working for the secret service agency Mossad was revealed by the Herald in April last year.

Uriel Zoshe Kelman, 30, and Eli Cara, 50, were caught trying to obtain a passport using the birth certificate of an unsuspecting Auckland tetraplegic with cerebral palsy.

They made a passport application for a colleague, former Israeli diplomat Zev William Barkan, who managed to avoid arrest by fleeing the country.

A fourth man believed to be involved, Tony Resnick, a former paramedic with St John Ambulance (which the cerebral palsy sufferer also belonged to) left New Zealand shortly after Kelman and Cara were arrested.

Cara, who claimed to be a Sydney travel agent, had travelled to New Zealand 24 times since October 2000.

The police mounted a surveillance operation after being tipped off by staff at Internal Affairs.

New Zealand intelligence agencies are thought to have bugged the two Israeli passport fraudsters to gain evidence that they were Mossad agents. They were arrested in March last year and bailed.

Kelman and Cara originally denied the charge but pleaded guilty last July to a single charge of participating in an organised crime group in an attempt to unlawfully obtain a New Zealand passport.

They were deported in September after serving three months of a six-month sentence and giving a court-ordered donation of $100,000 to the Cerebral Society in Auckland.

After Kelman and Cara were arrested, acting Foreign Minister Jim Sutton summoned Israel's Canberra-based acting ambassador, Orna Sagiv, "read the riot act" and demanded an explanation.

When the pair were sentenced, Prime Minister Helen Clark imposed diplomatic sanctions on Israel until an apology was forthcoming.

Relations have now been restored with the official apology for the activities of the Israeli "citizens".

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