New Zealand PM says Israeli killed in quake was not a spy

John Key says "investigations found no evidence of link between group of Israeli backpackers, Israeli intelligence," according to reports in NZ.

July 20, 2011 09:23
2 minute read.
New Zealand Christchurch earthquake

New Zealand Christchurch earthquake_311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said on Wednesday that there is no connection between Ofer Mizrachi, an Israeli killed in an earthquake in Christchurch in February while backpacking with his friends, and Israeli intelligence agencies.

"The investigations that have been undertaken have been thorough and have found no evidence of a link between the group and Israeli intelligence," Key was quoted as saying by the New Zealand Herald.

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Speaking in San Francisco, Key said that New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (SIS) and local police investigated the allegations that a group of Israeli backpackers were Mossad agents, due to the group's quick exit from the country after the earthquake.

"The unusual circumstances which triggered the investigation was the rapid departure from the country of the three surviving members of the group of Israelis in question," Key said.

"Security agencies conducted the investigation and found no evidence that the people were anything other than backpackers," Key was quoted as saying.

The New Zealand leader denied reports that five passports were found on one of the men killed in the quake and said a single passport was found.

"None of the passports were New Zealand passports," he said.

SIS had suspected that Israeli spies may have been among the Israeli casualties in the powerful 6.3 earthquake which hit New Zealand earlier this year, killing 181 people including three Israelis, New Zealand newspaper The Southland Times reported Tuesday.

According to the report, the police national computer has been "under scrutiny in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake," for fears that Israeli agents may have hacked into the network providing backdoor entrance to sensitive information, The Southland Times said.

Four Israelis who were in the central city of Christchurch when the earthquake hit have been a central focus of the SIS, which suspects they may have managed to hack the national information network. One of those four Israelis, Mizrahi, 24, who was killed instantly when their van was crushed by falling masonry, was found to be carrying five passports.

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