Spy claims ridiculous, say Israelis

By Derek Cheng

Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

The Israelis at the centre of spying suspicions say the allegations are ridiculous and insulting - and they are demanding an apology.

This week it was revealed the New Zealand Government investigated several Israelis in the aftermath of the February Christchurch earthquake to see if they were connected to intelligence agencies, or involved in possible passport fraud or breaching the national police database. The investigation found no evidence of anything improper and police are confident their systems are secure.

Among those suspected were three young Israelis - Guy Jordan, Liron Sade and Michal Fraidman - whose quick flight home after the quake was among the factors that led to the investigation.

Others included three Israelis killed in the earthquake - Ofer Mizrahi, Ofer Levy and Gabi Ingel - and a search and rescue team and forensics team that arrived in Christchurch immediately after the quake.

Mr Jordan said last night he and his friends were backpackers, not spies.

"It's a big lie, and it's rubbish," he told 3 News.

"When I was in New Zealand, I was just a backpacker and was travelling New Zealand."

Mr Jordan said the trio left New Zealand quickly because they had none of their belongings.

They flew to Wellington in an Air Force 757, then to Auckland, and on to Israel, he said.

Israeli search and rescue team head Hilik Magnus said he helped facilitate their quick departure.

It was "ridiculous, impolite and even rude" to think that their swift departure was suspicious, he said.

"What should three youngsters do when one of their friends has died? Stay in the park without their belongings? Should they sit in the park and wait? Or should they go home, hug their families and share their sorrow with the family of their friend [who died]?"

Mr Magnus, who led a seven-person team to Christchurch, said it was "total bullshit" to think that any spy activity was going on.

He denied reports that his team was caught in the Red Zone and had to be escorted out by police.

He said the team was allowed in the restricted area only once - under police supervision - to retrieve to belongings of dead Israelis Mr Levy and Mr Ingel.

"We are going to demand an apology [from the Southland Times, which broke the story] and if they don't do it, we are going to sue. It is a stupid story. Nothing connected to reality."

The Government has said the team was not allowed to help the rescue effort because it was not United Nations-accredited, but Mr Magnus said he never heard this reason.

"This was only raised after we left. Nobody told us about any UN qualification or asked for it."

He said he had worked in the military and in the intelligence community, but for the past 30 years had run his private search and rescue company and had had nothing to do with the Israeli Government.

Mr Jordan's father, Amihai, wanted an apology from the New Zealand Government.

"[Guy] is afraid that he will go somewhere and somebody will know and take him to some investigation because of this article that reported all these things, which is quite silly," he told 3 News.

- NZ Herald

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