Alleged Mossad Agents Imprisoned in NZ to Be Released

Two Mossad agents who are serving prison sentences in New Zealand are slated to be released and to return to Israel within the coming days.

Elisha Cara and Uriel Kelman were jailed in July for six months after an Auckland court found them guilty of seeking to obtain a New Zealand passport through illegal means. The two were also slapped with a fine of 50,000 New Zealand dollars.

Legal sources in New Zealand said that the early release of the two men was not the result of a deal, but in keeping rather with a standard legal process in the local judicial system.

Despite the pending release of the two, a spokesman for the New Zealand police noted that the investigation into the affair was continuing in an effort to locate two additional suspects believed to be involved in the crime - William Ze'ev Barkan, an Israeli who fled New Zealand, and a David Reznick, a New Zealand Jew who served in the Israel Defense Forces and is believed to have fled to Israel.

Although the indictment against Cara and Kelman charged the two with criminal offenses and not espionage, the New Zealand media have claimed that the two were Mossad agents and part of an extensive operation to acquire New Zealand passports.

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied these media reports.

In the wake of the affair and conviction, New Zealand adopted a number of measures against Israel, lowering the level of the diplomatic and economic relations between the two countries. New Zealand officials have said that this state of affairs will not change until the government of Israel apologizes for the incident.