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Bishkek Says Kyrgyz Passports Used In Turkey By Uyghurs Were 'Forged'

The head of Kyrgyzstan's State Registration Service said on May 20 that all Kyrgyz passports illegally used in Turkey earlier in the week by ethnic Uyghurs from China were fake passports.

Taiyrbek Sarpashev told RFE/RL on May 20 that Chinese citizens of Uyghur origin used forged copies of legitimate Kyrgyz passports.

Sarpashev said the legitimate original passports that were copied are still being used elsewhere by Kyrgyz citizens.

Sarpashev said an investigation into the passport copying organization is under way.

Turkish media reports said on May 17 that Turkish police detained 98 ethnic Uyghurs from China's northwestern region of Xinjiang at Istanbul's Ataturk airport after discovering they were using fake Kyrgyz passports.

Those reports said four men were arrested at Istanbul's airport for allegedly selling the fake Kyrgyz passports to the ethnic Uyghurs, along with plane tickets to Saudi Arabia.

Turkish investigators said the Uyghurs originally had bought tickets to Northern Cyprus and paid an extra 2,500 euros ($2,830) for each Kyrgyz passport and 300 euros ($340) for each ticket to the Saudi city of Jeddah.

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