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Telegraph.co.uk

Tuesday 08 January 2019

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An Algerian-born Briton was arrested at Bangkok airport yesterday with more than 450 fake passports.

Mahieddine Daikh, 35, was held as he tried to board a China Airlines flight for Amsterdam, with a connecting flight to Glasgow, with 138 false passports in his carry-on bag.

Officials found another 314 sets of papers in his checked luggage. All were purportedly from Spain, France, Belgium and Portugal.

Daikh, who at a press conference confessed to trying to smuggle the passports into Britain for sale, claimed that he had bought them for £3,000 from a Pakistani on the resort island of Samui.

"We will check his background to see if he is linked with terrorism networks, because of his suspicious travel itinerary and a large quantity of counterfeit passports," said Police Colonel Chanatpol Yongbanjerd, chief of the airport's immigration command.

Daikh's shipment is more likely to have been part of the forged passport business, rather than a terrorist operation in itself, not least because clandestine agents seek to maintain a low profile rather than carry 138 passports in their hand luggage.

However, a diplomatic source said: "The existence of Thailand as a country of production and transit of fake documentation is a security concern."

As befits a city where anything from fake CDs to a new gender can be bought, the Thai capital is the global hub of the trade in false passports.

The going rate for a western passport in the Khao San Road backpacker enclave is around £150, with a premium for especially desirable visas - but most are stolen and flown in from around the world for alteration.

asiasoutheast@telegraph.co.uk

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