Govt ‘Denies Role in Trafficking Route’

JAKARTA ~ The government has rejected allegations that its diplomats in Afghanistan have been selling visas to assist would-be illegal immigrants to Australia, state media said.

“It is a baseless allegation, a rumor without the support of facts,” Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda was quoted as saying by the Antara news agency.

“The Indonesian embassy in Kabul never sold visas to facilitate human trafficking to Australia. I categorically refute the accusation that we have issued visas for the purpose of human trafficking.”

Wirajuda said any visa application received in the Afghan capital Kabul would be checked by immigration authorities, the Foreign Ministry and intelligence agencies in Jakarta.

Despite his rejection of the allegations which surfaced in an Australian newspaper this month, the minister said they were being investigated.

“Although the accusation is groundless, we will not ignore it. The Foreign Ministry will check on it with the embassy in Kabul,” he said.

The would-be illegal immigrants fly to Indonesia and meet up with “snakehead” trafficking networks, whom they pay thousands of dollars to smuggle them to Australia, often in unseaworthy boats.

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