Nine Held in Brisbane After Group Posing as Journalists for Commonwealth Games is Busted

The group was traveling with documents that said they were journalists going to Australia to cover the Commonwealth Games.


One Indian man was charged with people smuggling and falsifying documents after eight other Indians were arrested at the Brisbane airport by the Australian Border Force (ABF) on March 28. The group had said they were journalists traveling to cover the Commonwealth Games 2018 and had Temporary Activity Visas.

An airline liaison officer in Bangkok found the group to be “non-genuine travelers” and flagged the group on transit through Thailand, the ABF said in a statement.

Eight of them were allegedly carrying fake foreign media credentials for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. An investigation has been launched.

Rakesh Kumar Sharma, 46, who is suspected of people smuggling was remanded into custody on March 29. He was charged under Migration Act 1958.  He held valid credentials and faces maximum penalty up to 20 years in jail. Sharma will be taken before the court on April 6 when a Hindi interpreter is present. The eight others have been sent to immigration detention and face immediate deportation.

Indian group caught in Australia with fake documents Photo: ABF

While the ABF is working hard to ensure smooth entry for legitimate Commonwealth Games visitors, attempts to exploit the event and Australia’s visa program will not be tolerated, Terry Price, the ABF regional commander Queensland, said.

“Anyone wishing to enter Australia, including athletes, team officials, spectators and the media, must hold a valid visa and accreditation and must be deemed to be a legitimate visitor,” Price said. “As with all travelers, the ABF will process all Commonwealth Games visitors on arrival and anyone found not to be here for legitimate purposes can expect to have their visas cancelled and to be turned around. This may occur on arrival in Australia, or prior to boarding flights to Australia.

“We have a skilled network of ALOs at key overseas international airports who can identify travellers of concern and stop them travelling or, as in this case, provide real time information to alert colleagues onshore. The ABF remains highly alert to other similar attempts that may occur as we get closer to the start of the Commonwealth Games,” he said.

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