INTERPOL Confirms Two Passengers Boarded with Stolen Passports
Both passports were recorded in the law enforcement agency's Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database and were used by passengers aboard missing the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370.
INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble issued a statement March 9 confirming that at least two passports recorded in its Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database were used by passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370, the Boeing 777 airliner that lost contact with air traffic controllers a day earlier while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. An Austrian passport and an Italian passport that were used by the two passengers were added to INTERPOL's SLTD database after being stolen in Thailand in 2012 and 2013, respectively. The statement said INTERPOL is conducting checks on all other passports used to board flight MH 370 that may have been reported stolen.
Meanwhile, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has sent a team of investigators to Asia to be ready to assist with the investigation, and a Boeing team also has been sent to assist NTSB as a technical advisor. Once the aircraft has been found, International Civil Aviation Organization protocols will determine which country will lead the investigation, according to NTSB.
There have been no checks on the stolen Austrian and Italian passports made by any country between the time they were entered into the database and the departure of flight MH 370, which means INTERPOL at this point cannot determine on how many other occasions these passports were used to board flights or cross borders, according to Noble's statement. It said INTERPOL is currently in contact with its National Central Bureaus in the involved countries to determine the true identities of the passengers who used the stolen passports to board the flight.
"Whilst it is too soon to speculate about any connection between these stolen passports and the missing plane, it is clearly of great concern that any passenger was able to board an international flight using a stolen passport listed in INTERPOL's databases," said Noble. "What is important at the moment is to find out what caused Malaysian Airways flight 370 to go missing, and in this regard INTERPOL is making all needed resources available to help relevant authorities in Malaysia and elsewhere find out what happened. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with the families, loved ones, and friends of the 239 passengers and crew on board."
"This is a situation we had hoped never to see," he continued. "For years, INTERPOL has asked why should countries wait for a tragedy to put prudent security measures in place at borders and boarding gates. Now, we have a real case where the world is speculating whether the stolen passport holders were terrorists, while INTERPOL is asking why only a handful of countries worldwide are taking care to make sure that persons possessing stolen passports are not boarding international flights."
He cited a predicted increase in international travel to 1.5 billion passengers by 2017. INTERPOL created the database in 2002 following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.