Thursday 21 February 2019

The document of choice for agents

Ireland's status as a neutral nation has turned its passports into a coveted possession for foreign intelligence agencies.

Holding an Irish passport significantly boosted the prospects of a spy being welcomed into countries at the coalface of international espionage.

This latest controversy erupted in June when US law enforcement arrested 10 people who, they believed, were operating a Russian spy ring. One of the 10, operating under the alias "Richard Murphy", used an Irish passport to travel to Moscow after picking it up in Rome.

It later emerged that the passport belonged to Gerard Eunan Doherty, from Carndonagh, Co Donegal. His wife, Maureen's passport had also been used by the spy ring after the couple had travelled to Russia on holiday in 2005.

They were two of six Irish citizens whose identities had been stolen and used by the Russians.

Another victim was Catherine Sherry, a volunteer with the charity To Russia with Love. Her identity was adopted by agent Anna Chapman, above, whose photograph was subsequently splashed in newspapers around the world because of her good looks.

The Russian spy ring was broken up by the FBI when intercepted telephone calls led to the arrest of the 10 people in New York, Boston, New Jersey and Virginia.

Irish Independent

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