Movie legend SIR Sean Connery has leapt to the defence of the Panamanian government's decision to revoke his diplomatic passport.

The former JAMES BOND star was presented with the passport by his friend, Panamanian President MIREYA MOSCOSO during a ceremony in 2003 to honour "artists, businessmen, politicians and other people on account of them being international promoters of culture, health, business, tourism or athletics".

But Moscoso left office on 1 September (04) after losing a general election - and incoming President MARTIN TORRIJOS has cancelled all 121 diplomatic passports handed out by Moscoso.

After a host of what Connery deems "unfair criticism" in the world's media over the new government's decision, the actor has written to Foreign Secretary SAMUEL LEWIS NAVARRO in the Central American country's newspaper LA ESTRELLA DE Panama.

Connery says, "The reports have been hurtful and vigorous.

"There was no one more surprised than me when they honoured me with a diplomatic passport."

The 74-year-old said while he had never used the passport, it made him feel "a certain loyalty toward Panama".

20/10/2004 14:13