Indonesian visas for sale to Afghans?

Dec. 2, 2008 at 11:35 PM
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CANBERRA, Australia, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Indonesian diplomats in Afghanistan are selling visas to desperate people hoping to get to Australia, members of the Afghan community in Australia say.

Hassan Ghulam, who lives in Brisbane, said increasing violence in Afghanistan has led to an increase in the price of Indonesian visas at the embassy in Kabul, The Australian reported Wednesday. He said corrupt staff members at the embassy are now asking $1,500 in U.S. currency, up from $1,200.

"This is because the people are very eager to leave to Indonesia and then try their luck with a smuggler and get on a boat to come to Australia," Ghulam said.

Ghulam said many are so eager to get to Australia they have sold everything they own. He estimated, based on what he has heard from contacts in Australia and Afghanistan, that at least 100 visas have been sold.

A spokesman for the Australian Immigration Department said officials knew of reports of the visas. An Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman said any visas sold for bribes would be forged and the government plans an investigation.

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