Indian arrested in Spain, India seeks consular access (Third Lead)

February 4th, 2009 - 10:03 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 4 (IANS) India has sought consular access to an Indian arrested in Spain allegedly for forgery and links with international criminal networks.The government has already sought consular access to the arrested Indian who has been identified as Jangeet Singh, official sources said here.

Singh and 12 others suspected of falsifying documents were arrested Tuesday and will be produced before a court in Madrid, the sources added, citing an informal communication from the Indian mission in the Spanish capital.

The arrests took place between Barcelona and the eastern city of Valencia.

It is not yet clear whether the arrested men, including Singh, had any connection with the terrorist group Al Qaeda.

News reports from Spain citing police sources indicated that the arrested men had supplied forged passports for use by Al Qaeda operatives. However, the Spanish police have not officially mentioned any links of malefactors with Al Qaeda.

A statement from the Spanish police Tuesday said the detainees - 11 Pakistanis, a Nigerian and an Indian - were suspected of belonging to an international crime gang involved in passport forgery, drug trafficking and human trafficking.

Investigations are on to find out whether they had supplied forged documents to international terror groups, a euphemism for Islamic extremist groups like the Al Qaeda.

Reports quoted sources close to the investigation, codenamed ‘Operation Fish’, saying it could be extended to other parts of Spain as well as France, Britain, Belgium, Italy and Thailand.

According to investigators, the ring operated by stealing passports in various Spanish cities and sending these to Thailand, where they would be altered and sent to criminal networks in the other five European countries to facilitate fraudulent border crossings.

Last month, six Pakistanis were held in Barcelona on suspicion of tax fraud and diverting funds to Islamic extremist groups. They were, however, freed days later for lack of evidence.

Since Madrid was bombed by suspected Al Qaeda terrorists over four years ago, Spain has been closely tracking the activities of Islamic radicals and Al Qaeda operatives.

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