10-08-2006, 02:42 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Israeli Diplomat Expelled From Australia For Spying.
Amir Laty linked to Mossad spies in NZ
AM - Saturday, 19 February , 2005 08:08:00
Reporter: Louise Yaxley
ELIZABETH JACKSON: John Howard flies to New Zealand later today leaving behind uproar over the apparent expulsion of an Israeli diplomat late last year. Amir Laty left Australia in late December. The Federal Government won't say why and refuses to confirm that he had to get out or he would have been expelled.
But across the Tasman there is nothing quiet about the row with Israel. There, the Prime Minister Helen Clark cut off all high-level diplomatic contact over her accusation that two Israeli men were spies. While they're being handled very differently, the two cases are linked, as Louise Yaxley reports.
LOUISE YAXLEY: Amir Laty spent just over a year as a junior diplomat in Canberra. And he's reported to have spent plenty of that time drinking at the capital's nightspots and bars, mixing with a wide range of locals, especially women.
But also during that time he travelled to New Zealand to visit two Israeli men jailed for falsely trying to obtain a New Zealand passport. Those two men were later deported. Prime Minister Helen Clark claimed they were part of Israel's spy agency, Mossad.
That visit could have been part of Mr Laty's consular duties but there are suggestions it was much more and that his links to a bungled operation in New Zealand are the real reason he had to get out of Australia.
Jim Veitch is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Victoria in Wellington and he specialises in Middle Eastern affairs and terrorism.
JIM VEITCH: The Israeli diplomats in both countries have been under pressure and they've come under scrutiny for their activities and it's something that has affected, perhaps, the relationships with both our countries and Israel.
And Israel needs to mend those fences pretty quickly because Israel, I think, needs Australian support, more than it needs New Zealand's support. But now that there's been an incident in Australia that's come to light I think they're moving pretty quick to put things right.
LOUISE YAXLEY: Professor Veitch thinks Helen Clark is right to suspect Mossad.
JIM VEITCH: I am aware that Mossad is very active. It either works with people they employ on an associated basis or they use their own people. And Mossad becomes particularly active wherever it perceives that Muslim communities are becoming active and influential.
And I would think that the actions we've seen from the Israeli Government in this part of the world has been part of the attempt of the Israelis to keep an eye on what happens in the Muslim world and where the influences are marked and so on.
LOUISE YAXLEY: The Australian Government won't say why Mr Laty had to leave the country. The Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, says it wasn't because of a relationship with his daughter, Caitlin Ruddock.
But in New Zeland it's more straightforward because the two men were caught in a police sting and found guilty of trying to falsely obtain a new Zealand passport with an identity stolen from a wheel-chair bound New Zealand man.
Professor Veitch says that caused the freeze in relations between Israel and New Zealand.
JIM VEITCH: Helen Clark made it quite clear that all relationships with Israel would be put on hold until an apology had been received from Israel, and it appears that that apology is in the process of being negotiated through diplomatic channels.
The Ambassador of… the New Zealand Ambassador in Turkey, stationed in Ankara, has been approached from Israel and they are presumed to be working on the process of setting up the words that will eventually become public.
LOUISE YAXLEY: So while John Howard and Helen Clark prepare for a few days of focus on some issues common across the Tasman, it's likely that this time they'll also touch on a subject that doesn't regularly feature on that agenda – the extent of Israel's covert operations in this region.
LOUISE YAXLEY: Louise Yaxley with that report.
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