Indian arrested for smuggling ‘fake journalists’ into Australia
SYDNEY: An Indian journalist has been arrested in Australia for helping eight people enter the country using fake media credentials to cover the Commonwealth Games, authorities said Thursday.
The group told officials at Brisbane airport that they had arrived to cover the Commonwealth Games. The main accused, Rakesh Sharma, has been charged with human trafficking and is facing up to 20 years in jail.
The nine visitors, all from India, were flagged as possible “non-genuine travellers” when they transited through Thailand and were questioned when they arrived in Brisbane Wednesday, the Australian Border Force (ABF) said.
“Eight were found to have fraudulent foreign mediacredentials,” the border force said in a statement.
“Police will allege in court that the 46-year-old Indian national who did hold valid credentials was facilitating the group’s travel.”
The man was charged with one count of people smuggling and one count of having false documents and false or misleading information in relation to non-citizens.
The maximum penalty for each charge is 20 years’ jail. The eight others, whose ages and gender were not released, were being held in immigration detention.
“The ABF remains highly alert to other similar attempts that may occur as we get closer to the start of the Commonwealth Games,” the Border Force’s Queensland Regional Commander Terry Price said.
Queensland Police’s Assistant Commissioner Bob Gee told reporters there was no threat to the multi-sport event, which runs on the Gold Coast from April 4-15.
Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has already warned Commonwealth Games athletes and support staff not to overstay their visas.