LYON, France (AP) — Interpol is going to allow two airlines to check passenger passports against its vast database of lost and stolen travel documents.
The leader of the police organization says it's a test project intended to make it harder for criminals to use the passports.
The two airlines will be able to query the database but not gain direct access to it, in a program called I-Checkit for private-sector companies. Officials say the program could one day include financial institutions or hotels.
Up to now, only national authorities such as border police have been allowed to verify whether passengers' passports turn up in the database of some 40 million stolen or lost passports in the computer systems of the France-based international police agency.
While the database has been available to authorities for more than a decade, only a handful of countries actively use it.
It isn't known whether stolen passports had anything to do with Saturday's disappearance of a Malaysian jetliner that was headed to China with 239 people on board. But Interpol has released images of two men who used stolen European passports to board the flight.
The two airlines that have been chosen for the test are Air Arabia and Qatar Airways. Interpol says they were chosen because they approached the agency and expressed interest.
143-c-18-(Jamey Keaten, AP correspondent)-"in this case"-AP correspondent Jamey Keaten reports Interpol believes that information on the two men makes terrorism seem a less likely cause of the plane's disappearance. (11 Mar 2014)
<<CUT *143 (03/11/14)££ 00:18 "in this case"
141-c-20-(Jamey Keaten, AP correspondent)-"a Italian national"-AP correspondent Jamey Keaten reports that Interpol officials have released pictures of the two people in connection with the missing Malaysia Airlines flight. (11 Mar 2014)
<<CUT *141 (03/11/14)££ 00:20 "a Italian national"
APPHOTO REB107: This image released by Interpol shows the two Iranian who were traveling with stolen passports on a missing Malaysia Arlines jetliner. The image was displayed on a screen during a presser at the Interpol headquarters in Lyon, central France, Tuesday, March 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Interpol) (11 Mar 2014)
<<APPHOTO REB107 (03/11/14)££