Missing Malaysia Airlines plane: Iranian with fake passport was my high school friend, said source

The two passengers holding fake passports aboard the Malaysian flight MH370 were Iranians heading to Europe with the aim of seeking asylum, said the BBC Persian service, quoting a source who met them in Malaysia.

The Malaysian authorities on Monday identified one of them as 19-year-old Iranian Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad, who is believed to be using a stolen Austrian passport. The Interpol identified the second man, also an Iranian, as 29-year-old Delavar Seyed Mohammad Reza, who is thought to be using a stolen Italian passport.

An anonymous Iranian told the Persian service on Monday in a phone interview from Malaysia that he met a friend he knew from high school, believed to be Mr Mehrdad, when the latter arrived in the South-east Asian country. "I met him the first day he arrived in Malaysia... he said he was staying for three to four days but was eventually going to Germany, that his final destination was Frankfurt in Germany. He stayed for almost a week in Malaysia." he said.

The source said the high school friend was travelling with another person. He added that he accompanied them to book the tickets for the Malaysia Airlines MH370 flight. "We went together when he booked the flights and I even had his booking number and was checking his flight status online, that's why I remember which flight he was taking. I had seen his flight number."

"I accompanied them to the airport. It was almost 8pm when we headed to the airport and we arrived around 9pm to 9.15pm at the airport and we stayed in the car for few minutes and chatted."

The source added: "The last night before the flight... his friend was dyeing his beard and hair and was checking the colour (of his hair and beard) to match with the picture of a passport. He was making himself look like the photo in the passport.

"When we printed the tickets, I realised that the passports were fake. My friend's passport belonged to an Austrian and my friend's friend had a passport belonging to an Italian."

He added: "They had three flights to take, from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, from Beijing to, I think, Amsterdam and from Amsterdam my friend was heading to Frankfurt and his friend was going to another country."

The Malaysian authorities said on Monday the Iranian teenager was unlikely to be a member of any terrorist group. They said they have been in contact with the teenager's mother who had been waiting for him in Frankfurt. The mother had known that he was travelling on a stolen passport, police added.