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Malaysia: Interpol passport checks too time-consuming; Interpol: Wrong

By Ralph Ellis, CNN
updated 6:21 PM EDT, Fri March 28, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Two Iranian men boarded Malaysia Airlines flight 370 with stolen passports
  • Malaysia says checking passports against Interpol's database would take too long
  • Interpol responds, saying the process is very speedy

(CNN) -- Interpol has rebutted Malaysia's explanation for not checking an international database of lost and stolen passports when passengers boarded Flight 370, an omission that may have allowed two Iranian men with stolen passports onto the plane.

Malaysian Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told the Malay Mail Online this week that using Interpol's Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) database might have slowed down the process of immigration checks at airport counters.

He said the country's immigration's equipment could not handle the global database of 40.2 million lost passports.

Interpol fired back on Friday, saying the problem cannot be blamed on technology or Interpol.

"Interpol's SLTD database takes just seconds to reveal whether a passport is listed, with recent tests providing results in 0.2 seconds," the international law enforcement agency said in a statement.

"The fact is that the U.S. consults this database more than 230 million times per year; the UK more than 140 million times; the UAE more than 100 million times and Singapore more than 29 million times. Not one of these countries, or indeed any INTERPOL member country, has ever stated that the response time is too slow."

Interpol earlier said two Iranian men, Pouri Nourmohammadi, 18, and Delavar Syed Mohammad Reza, 29, used stolen Austrian and Italian passports to board Flight 370. The men entered Malaysia using valid Iranian passports.

The men have not been linked to terrorism.

Thailand is a hub for the sale of stolen or fake passports.

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