Iranians with Fake Israeli Passports Claim Asylum

Two Iranians arrested in Kenya say they will be killed if sent back to Iran - but why were they flying to Tel Aviv?

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Israeli passport (illustrative)
Israeli passport (illustrative)
Flash 90

Two young Iranians arrested in Kenya last week trying to fly to Tel Aviv on fake Israeli passports appeared in a Nairobi court on Tuesday, where they pleaded guilty to being in possession of forged documents.

The accused were Hesamoddin Hatami, travelling under the false Israeli name Avshalom Tsabari, and Zahra Kolabian, travelling as Adi Larian; they claimed to the court that they were attempting to seek asylum.

The court ordered the pair to be remanded in police custody until October 1, while awaiting official communication from the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, to establish if their claims were legitimate.

The prosecution team initially called for the pair to be deported back to Iran, but the accused argued that they would be in danger if returned.

"I'm just requesting that we shouldn't be repatriated back home because we might be killed," Hatami told the court through a translator.

Kenyan police said on Monday that they were treating the two Iranians as illegal migrants and not terrorism suspects. The duo were detained at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Thursday.

Making the case more suspicious is the fact that the two men were caught after attempting to board a Brussels Airlines flight from Nairobi to Brussels, authorities said, with the intention to travel from there to Tel Aviv.

It is unclear why two Iranian citizens would seek refuge particularly in Israel, as no reports have yet indicated they are Jews fleeing the Tehran-based Islamic regime.

Security forces in Kenya have been on high alert as the country marks the anniversary of last year's attack by Somalia's Al-Qaeda-affiliated terror group Al-Shabaab on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall that left at least 67 dead.

Iranians are treated with particular suspicion in Kenya, as the east African nation is a close ally of Israel, which Iran has threatened to destroy - and has made attempts to attack Israeli targets in Kenya itself.

Last year, a Kenyan court sentenced two Iranians to life in prison for terror-related charges, including possessing explosives to be used in bomb attacks.