Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

IN THE PAPERS

'Steely resolve of reporters exploited by pared-down employers'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

US judge calls Argentina bond swap offer illegal

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Cécile Duflot ruffles some feathers

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Media accused of pro-protester bias in Ferguson

Read more

DEBATE

The Murderous Lure of Jihad: Tackling ISIS and its Worldwide Recruitment (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

The Murderous Lure of Jihad: Tackling ISIS and its Worldwide Recruitment

Read more

FOCUS

Republicans block Obama's bid to hike minimum wage

Read more

WEB NEWS

Calls for ISIS media blackout after execution of James Foley

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users divided over Darren Wilson

Read more

  • Fear of Ebola sky-high among Air France workers

    Read more

  • US says Islamic State threat 'beyond anything we've seen'

    Read more

  • Malaysia mourns as remains of MH17 victims arrive home

    Read more

  • Hollande is ‘nobody’s president’ says former French minister

    Read more

  • Reporter’s IS captors taunted family, asked for €100m ransom

    Read more

  • Two US Ebola patients leave hospital ‘virus-free’

    Read more

  • Turkey’s Erdogan names foreign minister Davutoglu as next PM

    Read more

  • US reaches historic $16.7bn settlement with Bank of America

    Read more

  • Special report: Supplying Ukraine’s soldiers on the front line

    Read more

  • Israeli air strike kills three top Hamas commanders

    Read more

  • France delivered arms to Syrian rebels, Hollande confirms

    Read more

  • Tensions high in Yemen as Shiite rebel deadline looms

    Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

  • French village rallies behind besieged elderly British couple

    Read more

  • Former Irish PM Albert Reynolds dies at 81

    Read more

Europe

Alleged Russian spy missing after jumping bail in Cyprus

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-07-01

Cyprus police said Wednesday they were looking for a Canadian man wanted by the US in connection with a Russian spy ring after the 54-year-old suspect jumped bail and vanished from his hotel in the southern Cypriot town of Larnaca.

AFP - A key suspect in the Russia-US spy scandal vanished Wednesday in Cyprus after a local court on the divided Mediterranean island released the alleged Kremlin paymaster on bail.
   
The disappearance of Christopher Metsos, said to be in his mid-50s, provided a stunning twist to a Cold War-style espionage saga that has threatened to upset major efforts to reset ties between Washington and Moscow.
   
Metsos, who purports to be a Canadian citizen, is accused of being the paymaster for a "deep cover" cell of spies in the United States, furnishing them with money and swapping bags covertly with other Russian operatives.
   
The spy ring was cracked open on Monday as FBI agents finally pounced on 10 alleged Russian agents in Boston, New York and the Washington area after more than a decade of exhaustive surveillance operations.
   
Metsos, the 11th suspect, was still at large at the time, but was arrested early on Tuesday at Cyprus's Larnaca airport as he tried to board a flight to Budapest.
   
To the dismay of US justice officials, Metsos was not deemed enough of a flight risk to be kept behind bars until he could be extradited to the United States.
   
The local court allowed him to go free on 26,500 euros (32,330 dollars) bail as long as he surrendered his passport and travel documents, pending an extradition hearing on July 29.
   
There was no sign of the suspected secret agent when Cypriot police rushed to his hotel room on Wednesday after he failed to sign in at a Larnaca police station between 6 and 8 pm, breaking the terms of his bail.
   
An arrest warrant is now out for Metsos, who could seek to take advantage of the fact that the breakaway Turkish Cypriot statelet in the north of the island has no extradition treaties and serves as a well-known haven for fugitives.
   
Staff at his hotel in Larnaca said Metsos was last seen at the reception on Tuesday evening and had paid for two weeks in advance with a credit card.
   
The remaining 10 spy suspects are likely to be less successful in their bail bids in three separate hearings Thursday to be held in federal courts in Boston, New York and Alexandria, Virginia.
   
Washington and Moscow have sought to downplay the Cold War-style arrests, with US officials insisting it will not damage President Barack Obama's vaunted "reset" of ties with the Kremlin.
   
The State Department has styled the episode as a remnant of the Cold War covert intelligence struggle between spymasters in Moscow and Washington that would not have a lasting impact on ties.
   
Spokesman Philip Crowley reaffirmed Wednesday that the department was "not anticipating" any diplomatic actions against Moscow and said the Obama administration wants to "move beyond" the incident.
   
The case harks back to Cold War hostilities with the use of false identities and tales of buried money and hidden video cameras that read like the pages of a spy novel.
   
During the Cold War, the discovery of spy rings often led to the expulsion of diplomats by either the United States or Soviet Union, which sometimes triggered similar responses from the other side.
   
The Russian foreign ministry -- which initially demanded explanations from Washington, dismissing the arrests as groundless -- has since said it expects the scandal will not hurt relations given the United States' muted response.
   
The White House said Obama knew the FBI was closing in on the spies when he hosted Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at a summit three days before the arrests, although he obviously failed to mention it in their meetings.
   
The criminal complaint filed by the US justice department accuses Metsos of being a paymaster for the SVR foreign intelligence service, a successor to the Soviet-era KGB.
   
On one occasion Metsos allegedly provides a suspected Russian spy with 40,000 dollars in cash and is overheard answering his complaints with: "Well, I'm so happy I'm not your handler."
   
In scenes straight out of a John Le Carre spy novel, Metsos later performs a "brush-pass" with a Russian government official in which they exchange identical orange bags thought to be full of money.
   
Metsos allegedly buries half the money in a field in upstate New York, where it is dug up two years later by two sleeper agents accused of seeking to infiltrate US policymaking circles on behalf of the SVR.

Date created : 2010-06-30

  • DIPLOMACY

    US, Russia emphasise warming ties in wake of spy scandal

    Read more

  • USA

    Russia denounces US Cold War-style spy arrests

    Read more

  • USA

    Ten suspected 'deep cover' Russian agents arrested for spying

    Read more

COMMENT(S)