Phony passport ring operates out of Osh, Kyrgyz say

Staff Report

OSH, Kyrgyzstan -- A ring selling phony Kyrgyz passports and operating out of Osh could become dangerously useful to terrorists, if it has not already become so, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)'s Tajik service reported August 23, quoting Kyrgyz officials.

The ring is particularly worrisome because it somehow has obtained genuine passport blanks and for a price will attach a foreigner's photo to a passport blank, RFE/RL reported. Those passports have biometric protections, such as those held by genuine Kyrgyz citizens. The going price is US $2,000 to $3,000 (136,810 to 205,220 KGS).

The ring first gained authorities' attention when Turkish police in May in Istanbul arrested 98 individuals on a single flight, all of whom had phony Kyrgyz passports. Officials are investigating whether personnel in the Kyrgyz passport agency are involved.

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