By Selwyn Manning - Scoop Co-Editor
Zev Barkan the suspected Israeli Mossad agent on the run from New Zealand Police has been sighted in North Korea, according to an Asian-based NGO closely linked to New Zealand intelligence networks.
Information provided to Scoop states Zev William Barkan turned up in Pyongyang as an Israeli security adviser in April, within weeks of fleeing from New Zealand prior to a suspected Israeli spy ring being sprung for attempting to illegally acquire a New Zealand passport.
Zev William Barkan (37), possibly a false name, also answers to the name Jay, was staying at a flat in Sandringham, Auckland City. New Zealand authorities believe he has left New Zealand. Zev Barkan remains wanted by New Zealand Police for allegedly attempting to illegally obtain a New Zealand passport. Barkan is a short, solid built, Caucasian male, has thick black hair, an American accent, said he was from Washington DC, worked for a windows and doors company, and was in New Zealand to do a sailing course. Barkan was last known to be in New Zealand March 3 to 20.
This weekend, international Non-Government-Organisations, including Global Protect All Children, have gathered for a conference in Tokyo Japan to discuss a crisis involving North Korean refugees.
Information was released at the conference suggesting Israeli agents, including Barkan, had entered into North Korea under the guise of security consultants to help North Korea build a "security wall" to keep its people in.
Overnight (New Zealand time), in an address to the conference, a senior NGO chief executive with Global-Protect All Children said: " Barkan is there (In Pyongyang) negotiating details of an extensive contract for design and technical equipment to support (a security wall) project, including- but by no means limited to - Israeli produced motion sensors and night vision equipment."
In discussions with Scoop, the chief executive said: "Barkan flew from Beijing to Pyongyang at the end of April. He was allegedly travelling on a Canadian passport issued in the name of Kevin Hunter, which had been reported stolen at the Canadian Consulate in the Southern Chinese city of Guangzhou in mid April."
It is believed North Korean and Israeli experts are conducting a "feasibility study" on the construction of a security fence along the 1500 KM North Korea China border. Brussels based NGO contacts attached to Human Rights Without Frontiers tipped off other NGOs to the North Korean plans.
Scoop contacts with intelligence connections in Asia, said Barkan was also connected to an Israeli security company operating out of Thailand.
On Thursday July 15, two Israeli men suspected of being involved in an Israeli intelligence passport acquiring scam were sentenced to six months imprisonment respectively in the Auckland High Court.
Uriel Zoshe Kelman and Eli Cara had earlier pleaded guilty to charges of attempting to illegally gain a New Zealand passport.
New Zealand High Court Judge, Justice Judith Potter, said: "It's difficult to see why anyone would want a false New Zealand passport unless it was intended to be used in a way ancillary to some other offending." She said: "That offending is likely to be serious or perhaps very serious."
Cara and Kelman, were also ordered to pay a combined NZ $100,000 to a cerebral palsy charity.
The two men were suspected of being aligned to a Mossad ring seeking to illegally obtain a New Zealand passport for a third man, know as Zev Barkan. Barkan had fled the country prior to a police sting in March that ended in the arrest of Kelman and Cara as they tried to collect a passport in the name of a wheelchair-bound cerebral palsy victim.
After the sentencing, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said there were very strong reasons to believe that the two Israelis convicted on charges relating to a fraudulent attempt to obtain a New Zealand passport were acting on behalf of Israel’s intelligence services.
"Israel is a country with which New Zealand has long had friendly relations. The New Zealand government views the act carried out by the Israeli intelligence agents as not only utterly unacceptable but also a breach of New Zealand sovereignty and international law. The Israeli agents attempted to demean the integrity of the New Zealand passport system and could have created considerable difficulties for New Zealanders presenting their passports overseas in future," Helen Clark said.
She added: "New Zealand condemns without reservation these actions by agencies of the Israel government. The Israel government was asked for an explanation and an apology three months ago. Neither has been received."
As a result, New Zealand moved to sever ties with Israel.
The move included:
• New Zealand suspending high-level visits from and to Israel;
• Any approach by Israel for its head of state, President Katsov, to visit New Zealand in August, in association with a proposed visit to Australia, to be declined;
• Israelis visiting New Zealand in any official government capacity will be required to apply for visas;
• Foreign Ministry consultations with Israel, due later this year, will be suspended;
• Approval for appointment of the new Israeli ambassador will be delayed and accreditation visits to Israel suspended meantime;
• Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials, and Ministers, will observe strict constraints on contact with Israel's honorary consuls.
"As will be apparent from these steps, the breach of New Zealand laws and sovereignty by agents of the Israeli government has seriously strained our relationship with Israel,” Helen Clark said.
Police found that Kelman, Cara and another two individuals had been operating in Auckland since November 2003. Cara had traveled in and out of New Zealand 24 times since October 2000.