Norway denies Sri Lankan claim of rebel passport racket

May 22, 2007 (AFP) – Norway on Tuesday denied Sri Lankan allegations that Tamil Tiger rebels had stolen a large number of Norwegian passports and sold them to Al-Qaeda operatives. Oslo’s embassy said it had no information that Sri Lanka’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) or Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda were in possession of Norwegian passports.

Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the United States, Bernard Goonetileke, told Washington radio last week that the Tigers had stolen 130,000 Norwegian passports and sold them to Al-Qaeda, among other terrorist outfits.

The envoy added that a Tamil Tiger with 700 Norwegian passports had been arrested in Thailand, which Norway also denied.

“The Norwegian authorities have no information suggesting that 700 passports have been confiscated in Thailand and neither are 700 blank passports missing,” the embassy here said in a statement.

However, it said that 130,000 Norwegian passports had been reported as missing or stolen over the past 10 years.

It said a Norwegian policeman was caught selling nine blank passports to a man of Sri Lankan origin and both were imprisoned last year.

The embassy rejected the allegations of