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  How difficult is it to board a plane with a stolen passport?

  Not as hard as you might think.

  In any major international airport, it's not uncommon to have your passport checked four times or more between check-in and boarding the aircraft. But if passenger documents aren't checked against Interpol's database of Stolen and Lost Travel Documents, travelers using those documents can slip through layers of security.

  Reports that two passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 were traveling on stolen Austrian and Italian passports have highlighted security concerns that have troubled Interpol for years, the international law enforcement agency said Sunday. The flight, carrying over 200 passengers, disappeared from radar on Saturday and hasn't been seen or heard from since.

  "Interpol is asking why only a handful of countries worldwide are taking care to make sure that persons possessing stolen passports are not boarding international flights," said Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble, in a statement.

  What happened to Flight 370?

  Before the departure of Flight 370, no country had checked the stolen passports against Interpol's list since they were added to the lost-documents database in 2012 and 2013, Interpol said.

  It is countries, not airlines, that have access to Interpol's data, and many governments don't routinely check passports against the database.

  In 2013, passengers were able to board planes more than a billion times without having their travel documents checked against Interpol's data, the agency said. Airlines carried more than 3.1 billion passengers globally in 2013, according to estimates from the International Air Transport Association.

  Are stolen passports related to plane's disappearance?

  Investigators don't yet know if the travelers with stolen passports had anything to do with the plane's disappearance. On any given day, many people travel using stolen or fake passports for reasons that have nothing to with terrorism, aviation security expert Richard Bloom told CNN.

  They might be trying to immigrate illegally to another country, or they might be smuggling stolen goods, people, drugs or weapons or trying to import otherwise legal goods without paying taxes, said Bloom, director of terrorism, intelligence and security studies at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

  "For all of those reasons, the very notion that passports might be important in this particular situation may be a red herring," Bloom said.

  A pilot's take: Why so few clues about missing Malaysia flight?

  While it's too soon to speculate about any connection between these stolen passports and the missing plane, Interpol's Noble said the main concern remains that any passenger was able to board an international flight using a stolen passport listed in Interpol's databases.

  "This is a situation we had hoped never to see," he said. "For years Interpol has asked why should countries wait for a tragedy to put prudent security measures in place at borders and boarding gates?"

  Few countries look up stolen passports

  Interpol does not charge countries for access to its databases, but some of the 190 Interpol member countries may not have the technical capacity or resources to access the network, according to Tom Fuentes, a former FBI assistant director.

  "It's just up to the will of the country to set it up and do it," Fuentes said.

  Interpol's lost-document database was created in 2002, following the September 11, 2001, attacks, to help countries secure their borders. Since then, it has expanded from a few thousand passports and searches to more than 40 million entries and more than 800 million searches per year.

  About 60,000 of those 800 million searches yield hits against stolen or lost documents, according to Interpol.

  The United States searches the database more 250 million times annually, the United Kingdom more than 120 million times annually and the United Arab Emirates more than 50 million times annually, Interpol said. (Some 300,000 passports are lost or stolen each year in the United States, alone, according to the U.S. Department of State, which collects reports of stolen passports and sends the information to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Interpol.)

  The United States routinely checks all inbound and outbound passengers on international flights against the database, said Fuentes.

  "If Malaysia Airlines and all airlines worldwide were able to check the passport details of prospective passengers against Interpol's database, then we would not have to speculate whether stolen passports were used by terrorists to board MH 370," said Interpol's Noble.

  The Thailand connection

  The Austrian and Italian passports were stolen in Thailand in 2012 and 2013, respectively, according to Interpol.

  Thailand is a booming market for stolen passports. Paul Quaglia, who has been working in the region as a security and risk analyst for 14 years, said the situation in Thailand is better than it was 5 to 10 years ago, "but still not up to international standards."

  "Unfortunately, Thailand remains a robust venue for the sale of high-quality false passports (which includes altered stolen passports) and other supporting documentation," he said.

  Not all "lost" passports are necessarily "stolen" passports, Quaglia said. "Some passports 'lost' are actually sold by the passport holder. Some young men and others traveling to Thailand, short on cash after extended partying and high living, can be approached to sell a passport, which can be easily replaced at embassies upon presentation of a routine 'lost passport' police report," he said.

  Searching for true identities

  An investigation has been launched into the Flight 370 matter with Malaysian and aviation authorities reviewing video and other documentation to try to identify not only who the passengers were that used the stolen passports, but how the illegal passports cleared security.

  Interpol has said it is currently in contact with its National Central Bureaus in the involved countries to determine the true identities of the passengers who used these stolen passports to board the missing Malaysia Airlines flight.

  Interpol's Noble urged countries and airlines to adopt routine checks against its lost and stolen document database.

  "I sincerely hope that governments and airlines worldwide will learn from the tragedy of missing flight MH 370 and begin to screen all passengers' passports prior to allowing them to board flights," Noble said.

  "Doing so will indeed take us a step closer to ensuring safer travel."查看译文



  国际刑警组织秘书长Ronald K. Noble在一次声明中表示:“国际刑警组织想问一问,为什么世界上只有少数国家采取严格的安检措施,防止携带假护照的可疑人员登上国际航班。”






  调查者目前还不能确定失窃护照是否与飞机失联有关。在接受美国有线电视新闻网采访时,航空安全专家、安伯瑞德航空大学恐怖主义、情报和安全研究中心主任,理查德·布卢姆(Richard Bloom)表示,每天人们以各种与恐怖主义无关的缘由,使用偷来的和假的护照。有时只是为了非法偷渡到另一个国家,或者为了处理赃物,贩卖武器、人口、毒品,非法走私商品。





  据美国联邦调查局前副局长Tom Fuentes所讲,国际刑警组织不会向190个成员国收取信息使用费,但是一些成员国确实没有技术能力使用这一网络。

  Tom Fuentes说:“这当然也取决于该国愿不愿意安装和使用这些数据库。”






  泰国正日益成为护照失窃的高发地。在当地工作长达14年的风险与安全分析师Paul Quaglia说,和5到10年前相比,泰国的安全局势好了不少,但是“依然达不到国际标准”。“可惜,泰国依然是仿制高质量护照和其它有效证件的重要基地。Paul Quaglia透露,一些来泰国旅游的年轻人,身上带的现金不多,却参加奢侈的聚会,享受高消费带来的快乐,一阵挥霍后,身上所剩无几,于是选择卖掉自己的护照换些现金。然后再到大使馆按照规定补办一本护照。所以并不是所有“丢失”的护照都是被“偷走的”。一些所谓“丢失”的护照会在市场上流动。


  国际刑警组织称,他们正在同其在相关国家驻设的“国家中心局”(National Central Bureaus)联系,查明MH370航班上持假护照登机乘客的真实身份。


  国际刑警组织秘书长Ronald K. Noble表示:“我真诚地希望世界各国政府和航空公司能从MH370航班失联的悲剧中幡然醒悟,并开始对所有乘客的护照进行检查,检查清楚后再允许登机。只有采取这样的措施才能保证乘客出行的安全。”


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