PM should ask Howard if Laty was an Israeli spy

Green MP Keith Locke is urging Helen Clark to ask John Howard during his visit here if expelled Israeli diplomat Amir Laty was a spy.

“Australian newspapers are saying more confidently that Mr Laty was a spy, and that his expulsion had something to do with his relationship with the two Mossad agents jailed in New Zealand,” said Mr Locke, Green Foreign Affairs Spokesperson.

“Australian Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock has denied that Mr Laty’s friendship with Ruddock’s daughter Caitlin had anything to do with his ejection. All the ‘informed sources’ quoted by Australian newspapers point to a link with Mossad’s efforts to gain New Zealand passports. Mr Laty visited the jailed agents in Auckland.”

Mr Locke said the Government’s demand for an explanation from the Israeli Government should be extended to the Australian Government.

“Helen Clark has demanded an explanation of the passport affair from the Israeli Government. Now she has the chance to ask John Howard in person what he knows about it.

“We need to know if Mr Laty was the ‘handler’ of the two jailed Israelis, as rumoured in the Australian press. If he was, we have to take action to stop Israel’s Australia-based diplomats, who are cross-accredited to New Zealand, conducting further covert operations against New Zealand.”

Mr Locke said New Zealanders also needed an assurance from Mr Howard that appropriate counter-espionage measures were now in place.

“Piece-by-piece, a picture is being constructed that the Mossad passport operation was run out of Australia.

“The lead agent, Zev Barkan, a former Israeli diplomat, came to New Zealand last year via Sydney, and the two agents caught and jailed, Eli Cara and Uriel Kelman, were both in Australia. Cara was based near Sydney and crossed the Tasman 24 times in three years. Now we have a link with a diplomat in the Canberra embassy.”