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A combination image of some of the 10 people expelled from the US as Russian agents. AP/Press Association Images

Russian diplomat expelled from Ireland over forged passports

Dept of Foreign Affairs has asked a staff member of the Russian embassy to leave the country following a garda investigation into the use of Irish passports.

THE DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN Affairs says it has asked a staff member at the Russian embassy in Ireland to leave the country, following the results of a garda investigation into the use of false Irish passports by Russian spies.

Last summer, the US expelled ten people who were found guilty of spying for a foreign agency, although US authorities said they found no evidence that any useful information had actually been passed back to Moscow.

Each of the ten was recently presented with special national honours by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Some of the spies were using falsified Irish passports, sparking a garda investigation.

Six genuine passports

The gardaí have concluded their inquiry and say that there is an “entirely persuasive picture of Russian intelligence service involvement in the manufacture and use of false documents based on the acquisition of six genuine passports belonging to Irish citizens,” according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

As a result of this garda inquiry, the Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs met with the Russian Ambassador this afternoon and informed him that Russian intelligence activity “in connection with the forgery of Irish passports and the effective theft of the identity of six Irish citizens” is completely unacceptable.

The Secretary General also said it was “not the behaviour the Government would expect from a country with which we have friendly relations”.

The government has subsequently cancelled the diplomatic accreditation of one of the Russian embassy’s staff members and asked them to leave the country.

The government said today’s actions make it clear it “will not tolerate the fabrication and use of forged Irish passports by agents of a foreign state”.

Irish citizens are required to submit their passport to the Russian Embassy in Dublin when applying for a visa to visit Russia on business or holiday.

Separately, a number of forged Irish passports were also used by the Israeli secret service to travel to Dubai in early 2010 in order to assassinate a Hamas leader. Ireland has already expelled an Israeli diplomat in connection with that incident.

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