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Death in Dubai: Stolen identity Britons to be given new passports

Six British nationals whose identities were stolen by the suspects in the killing of a top Hamas operative in Dubai are to be given new passports — a first step toward clearing their names.

The six Britons — and a seventh man whose name appeared on a German passport used by the alleged hit squad — have had their lives thrown into turmoil by the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh last month.

The seven, all dual citizens, have expressed anger and confusion and say they were victims of identity theft.

Officials in the United Arab Emirates said yesterday that at least two more fake Irish passports had been linked to the alleged assassins, and urged European investigators to launch full-scale probes into passport fraud.

The methodical stalking and killing of al-Mabhouh in a luxury hotel room — widely blamed on Israel's Mossad spy agency — has sparked an investigation that has spread across several continents, with investigators probing possible credit card links to US-based banks, and European officials grilling Israeli envoys over fraudulent passports.

Al-Mabhouh's body was found in his room at a luxury hotel in Dubai on January 20, and suspicion almost immediately fell on Mossad. The discovery that the identities used by seven of the suspected killers belonged to Israeli citizens has further fuelled suspicions that Mossad carried out the hit. Dubai authorities, who have identified a total of 18 suspects, have said they are virtually certain Mossad was involved.

Raffi Shamir, a spokesman for the British embassy in Tel Aviv, said the six British citizens had been invited to arrange for new passports, which were expected to arrive soon.

Mr Shamir said the six British passports used in Dubai had names and passport numbers that matched the owners, but photos and signatures that did not.

He said the new passport numbers would allow those unwittingly caught up in the affair to travel freely, despite their names being placed on Interpol's watchlist last week.

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