ISRAELI spy agency Mossad’s station chief in Australia has been expelled after a comprehensive investigation confirmed that Israel equipped a team of assassins with forged passports of Australians and other foreigners.
Announcing the expulsion in parliament yesterday, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith accused Israel of identity theft in connection with the assassination in Dubai in January of a leading Hamas official.
Mr Smith said the government’s decision followed an exhaustive three-month investigation by the Australian Federal Police and spy agencies and a visit to Israel by Australian Security Intelligence Organisation director-general David Irvine.
The Rudd government informed the US and Britain of its decision to expel the diplomat from the embassy in Canberra before yesterday’s public announcement, Mr Smith said. The Australian ambassador in Tel Aviv, Andrea Faulkner, was expected to inform the Israeli government of Canberra’s finding.
Israel’s use of four forged Australian passports – supposedly belonging to Nicole McCabe, Joshua Bruce, Adam Korman and Joshua Krycer – was not the action of a friend, Mr Smith said. “The high quality of these counterfeited passports points to the involvement of a state intelligence service,” the Foreign Minister said.
“These investigations and advice have left the government in no doubt that Israel was responsible for the abuse and counterfeiting of these passports.”
He said he expected relations with Israel would cool for a time.
The government’s action comes two months after Britain expelled an Israeli diplomat believed to be Mossad’s London station chief over the use of 12 forged British passports in the hit on Mahmoud al-Mabhouh on January 20, which bore the hallmarks of a Mossad operation.