Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Netanyahu deletes tweet featuring photo of James Foley

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 22 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 22 August 2014

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Read more

FOCUS

Lifting the veil over China's air pollution

Read more

ENCORE!

Tango Takeover in Paris

Read more

WEB NEWS

Calls for ISIS media blackout after execution of James Foley

Read more

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

  • French teenage girls held over Syria jihad plans

    Read more

  • Israel pounds Gaza but phones targets with warnings

    Read more

  • Bombs across Iraq kill dozens as violence escalates

    Read more

  • Good borders make good neighbours, Merkel tells Ukraine

    Read more

  • Islamist fighters claim they have taken Tripoli airport

    Read more

  • Iceland issues aviation alert on volcano activity

    Read more

  • France will not be 'be pushed around' by Germany

    Read more

  • ‘European GPS’ satellites launched into wrong orbit

    Read more

  • Libya withdraws as Africa Cup of Nations host

    Read more

  • Video: Israel bombs kidnapping suspect’s home

    Read more

  • US brands journalist’s beheading a ‘terrorist attack’

    Read more

  • Ebola prompts Philippines to recall UN troops in Liberia

    Read more

  • Besieged by problems, Hollande faces unhappy return from summer holidays

    Read more

  • US sued over ‘deportation mill’ in New Mexico

    Read more

  • Colombian army and FARC rebels in face-to-face talks

    Read more

  • US National Guard starts to pull out of embattled Ferguson

    Read more

  • August 22, 1914: The bloodiest day in French military history

    Read more

Americas

Spy ring suspect 'confesses' to being Russian agent

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-07-02

US prosecutors say a suspect in an alleged Russian spy ring has confessed to working for the "Service", a reference to Russia's intelligence service, the SVR. Ten suspected "deep cover" agents were arrested in the US on June 27 for espionage.

AP - One of the suspects in an alleged spy ring has confessed to federal agents that he worked for Russia's intelligence service, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

The revelation came on a day when several defendants in the case were making court appearances, and prosecutors announced that they had discovered $80,000 in new, hundred dollar bills in the safe-deposit box of two other suspects.
 
Meanwhile, authorities scoured a Mediterranean island for an alleged co-conspirator who disappeared after he was granted bail.
 
Authorities said in a court filing that Juan Lazaro made a lengthy statement after his June 27 arrest in which he discussed some details of the operation, which prosecutors said involved Russian moles living under assumed identities in American suburbs.
 
Among other things, he admitted that ``Juan Lazaro'' was not his real name, that wasn't born in Uruguay, as he had long claimed, that his home in Yonkers had been paid for by Russian intelligence, and that his wife, the Peruvian journalist Vicky Pelaez, had passed letters to the ``Service'' on his behalf.
 
He also told investigators that even though he loved his son, ``he would not violate his loyalty to the `Service' even for his son,'' three assistant U.S. attorneys wrote in a court memo. They added that Lazaro also wouldn't reveal his true name.
 
Prosecutors submitted the information to underscore evidence that they said was so strong that U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis should deny bail for Lazaro, Pelaez, and two suspects who had been living in New Jersey, Richard and Cynthia Murphy.
 
Federal prosectors also revealed that they had searched a safe-deposit box belonging to the Murphys this week, and found eight unmarked envelopes, each stuffed with ``apparently new $100 bills.''
 
Federal prosectors also revealed that they had searched a safe-deposit box belonging to the Murphys this week, and found eight unmarked envelopes stuffed with ``apparently new $100 bills.''
 
The lawyer for another suspect told a judge Thursday that his client was innocent.
 
Donald Heathfield and his wife, Tracey Lee Ann Foley, of Massachusetts, appeared in federal court in Boston on Thursday for a bail hearing. A judge granted a delay until July 16 to give their new lawyers time to prepare.
 
Heathfield's lawyer, Peter Krupp, said afterward the evidence revealed so far against his client is ``extremely thin.''
 
As they entered the court in handcuffs and leg shackles, the couple smiled at their sons, a teenager and a college student. The boys waved to their parents.
 
A magistrate judge in Virginia postponed a hearing for three other people accused of being foreign agents, Michael Zottoli, Patricia Mills and Mikhail Semenko. It has been rescheduled for Friday.
 
Hearings also were set for additional defendants in New York, including Lazaro, Pelaez and Richard and Cynthia Murphy.
 
Police on Thursday searched airports, ports and yacht marinas to find an 11th person who was arrested in Cyprus but disappeared after a judge there freed him on $32,500 bail. The man, who had gone by the name Christopher Metsos, failed to show up Wednesday for a required meeting with police.
 
Authorities also examined surveillance video from crossing points on the war-divided island, fearing the suspect might have slipped into the breakaway north, a diplomatic no-man's-land that's recognized only by Turkey and has no extradition treaties.
 
Not due in court Thursday was Anna Chapman, the alleged spy whose many photos on the Internet and heavy presence in the New York party scene has made her a tabloid sensation. She was previously ordered held without bail.
 
Eight of the suspects were accused by prosecutors of being foreign-born, husband-and-wife teams who were supposed to be Americanizing themselves and gradually developing ties to policymaking circles in the U.S.
 
Most were living under assumed identities, according to the FBI. Their true names and citizenship remain unknown, but several are suspected of being Russians by birth.
 
Heathfield claimed to be a Canadian but was using a birth certificate of a deceased Canadian boy, agents said in a court filing. His wife, Foley, purported to be from Canada, too, but investigators said they searched a family safe deposit box found photographs taken of her when she was in her 20s that had been developed by a Soviet film company.
 
Lazaro had said he was born in Uruguay and was a citizen of Peru; he was secretly recorded by the FBI talking about a childhood in Siberia, according to court documents.
 
Two, Chapman and Semenko, were Russians who didn't attempt to hide their national origin, FBI agents said, but they had a similar mission: blend in, network and learn what they could.
 
Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague said the U.K. was investigating whether Foley might have used a forged British passport. The British spy agency MI5 also is investigating the extent to which Foley and Chapman had links to London, and will likely seek to find out whether either attempted to recruit British officials as informants.
 
There is evidence that at least some of the alleged agents had success cultivating contacts in the business, academic and political worlds.
 
The criminal complaint alleges that either Heathfield or Foley sent messages to Moscow talking about turnover at the CIA that was supposedly ``received in private conversation'' with a former congressional aide. Other messages described Heathfield establishing contact with a former high ranking U.S. national security official, and with a U.S. researcher who worked on bunker-busting nuclear warheads.
 
Moscow thanked Cynthia Murphy for having passed along ``very useful'' information about the global gold market and instructed her to strengthen ties with students and professors at Columbia University's business school, where she was getting a degree, according to the FBI.
 
Among other things, the Russians wanted ``detailed personal data and character traits w. preliminary conclusions about their potential to be recruited by Service,'' according to one intercepted message.
 
Clare Lopez, senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy and a professor at the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security and a former operations officer for the CIA, said the alleged plotters might have someday been able to produce valuable information, if left in place long enough.
 
``Their value is not just in acquiring classified information,'' she said. ``There's a lot that goes on that's not simply stealing secrets and sending them back to Moscow.''
 
Metsos was charged with supplying funds to the other members of the ring.
 
Cypriot Justice Minister Loucas Louca on Thursday admitted that a judge's decision to release him on bail ``may have been mistaken'' and said authorities were examining leads on his possible whereabouts.
 
``We have some information and we hope that we will arrest him soon,'' Louca told reporters, without elaborating.
 
Cyprus has for decades been a hotbed of espionage intrigue as spies converge on the eastern Mediterranean island at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and Asia.
 
More recently, former CIA agent Harold Nicholson, in prison for espionage, recruited his 24-year-old son Nathaniel to meet with Russian agents in cities around the world from 2006 to 2008 to collect money owed by his former handlers. One of those cities was the Cypriot capital, Nicosia.

 

Date created : 2010-07-02

  • ESPIONAGE

    Russian spy suspects to seek bail in US courts

    Read more

  • ESPIONAGE

    Alleged Russian spy missing after jumping bail in Cyprus

    Read more

  • DIPLOMACY

    US, Russia emphasise warming ties in wake of spy scandal

    Read more

COMMENT(S)