Diplomat expelled over passport row

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Tthe Russian Embassy in Rathgar, Dublin, after a diplomat was forced to leave over fake passports

A Russian diplomat has been ordered out of the Irish Republic over a US-based spy ring which used fake Irish passports.

The Dublin government warned embassy officials they wanted the suspected agent kicked out of the country after the FBI blew open a decade-old “deep cover” operation last summer.

“The individual in question has been asked to leave this jurisdiction by a specified date,” said a Foreign Affairs spokesman.

“It is regrettable that this action has been necessary.”

The FBI broke up the Russian spy network in June last year arresting 10 people in New York, Boston, New Jersey and Virginia. They were all later deported as part of a swap deal with Russia after they admitted conspiring to act as unregistered foreign agents.

Garda detectives and diplomats have spent the past few months examining how six Irish passports got into the hands of some of the agents.

Those who had their identities stolen included Catherine Sherry, a volunteer with the charity To Russia With Love, which works with orphans in the former Soviet state. It was reported that secret agent Anna Chapman, the spy ring pin-up, had used her identity.

Another was Eunan Gerard Doherty, a firefighter from Carndonagh, Co Donegal, who was interviewed after his passport details had been implicated. A secret agent also known as Richard Murphy was to collect false travel documents in Mr Doherty’s name in Rome to covertly get into Russia. His wife Maureen’s identity was also jeopardised.

Russia’s Ambassador to Ireland Mikhail E Timoshkin was told by Irish officials the suspected agent’s accreditation for diplomatic status was being terminated under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

The same action was taken against an Israeli diplomat after a suspected hit squad from the country’s Mossad secret service travelled on five Irish passports. The unit was blamed for the assassination of leading Palestinian militant Mahmoud al Mabhouh in Dubai last year.

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