The Southland Times still insists its original report is accurate and that intelligence officials are auditing police computers because of suspicion that Israeli forensic scientists embedded malicious software to obtain security information after the earthquake.
Prime Minister John Key, who initially said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had called him after the media report, reversed his “no comment” position and stated that an investigation has shown that the supposed Mossad agent was a harmless backpacker.
The newspaper claimed that one of the three Israeli victims was found with five passports. Key says that only two passports, one of them European, were found on the man and that the reason for a probe was the quick exit of Israeli survivors of the devastating earthquake, which killed more than 100 people.
New Zealand has been especially sensitive to activities of the Mossad since 2004, when Israeli intelligence agents were caught stealing identities of New Zealand citizens in order to obtain local passports.