Bulgarian border guards at the Kapitan Andreevo checkpoint have detained three Iranian men who attempted to enter the country from Turkey using fake Israeli passports, the local daily Sofia Globe reported November 2.
“The three men, aged 21, 28, and 32, arrived at the checkpoint on Bulgaria’s border with Turkey October 31. They presented Israeli passports, which on examination were found to have been forged,” a Bulgarian Interior Ministry official said.
After their Iranian nationality was established during the investigation, the three men were transferred to a special facility for the temporary detention of foreigners in Lyubimets. Expedited deportation proceedings have been initiated, the Interior Ministry confirmed.
In June, another Iranian, 42-year old Esma’eil Kazem Hosseini Taqi, was detained at New Delhi’s Indira Gandi Airport for presenting a forged Israeli passport after disembarking from a flight from Katmandu, Napal.
“It is easier to enter Europe with an Israeli passport. I used to keep one passport in my pocket and show another passport to the airport immigration officials,” the Iranian national told immigration officers, according to a local media reports. “I faced security threats in my home country and therefore wanted to flee to Europe for my safety. I wanted to settle in Europe with my family,” Taqi said.
Taqi admitted that he had bought the fake Israeli passports from a gang specialized in document forgery in Turkey. Indian authorities deported Taqi back to Napal, Indian news outlets reported.
Meanwhile, The Jerusalem Post reported that in early 2016 an Iranian couple was caught at Chennai Airport in India traveling on fake Israeli passports, and were arrested before they could board a British Airways flight.
“The travelers arrived in Chennai on a domestic flight from Goa, where the passports had been forged, and were questioned by Indian intelligence agencies,” The New Indian Express reported.
According to the report, the woman had been living in Pune for the last ten years, while the man was working in Goa. After getting married, they planned to settle in the U.S. and had forged Israeli passports as a means to enter the country.
Reuters also reported in June that numerous Iranians had bought passports from the Comoros Islands, a small nation between Mozambique and Madagascar. Those procuring the fake passports reportedly included senior Iranian executives of companies working in shipping, oil and gas, foreign currency, and precious metals—all sectors that have been targeted by the international sanctions Washington has reimposed on Tehran.
Comoros passports offer visa-free travel in parts of the Middle East and Asia, and can be used by Iranians to open foreign bank accounts and register companies abroad, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Diplomats and Western security experts say some Iranians are procuring fake passports in order to protect their personal financial interests as sanctions bite deeper into the Islamic Republic’s economy, cripplingits ability to conduct international business.