US judge denies bail to spy suspects

A US judge has ordered three Russian spying suspects to be kept detained, saying she considered “the defendants at risk of flight”.

Judge Theresa Buchanan said the suspects, “Michael Zottoli” and “Patricia Mills”, and a third suspect, Mikhail Semenko, would appear again in court onJuly 7 for a preliminary hearing in the case of 10 suspects nabbed by USauthorities under suspicion of operating as Russian agents in the US.

Prosecutors said earlier that “Zottoli” admitted his true name was Mikhail Kutzik and “Mills” confessed her real name was Natalia Pereverzeva, and both admitted to being Russian citizens, in the first instance of the 10 arrested spy suspects giving up their true identity.

The court had been expected to deny them even temporary freedom, with US authorities still sweating over the apparent disappearance in the Russian spy saga of 11th suspect Christopher Metsos, arrested in Cyprus, who vanished after posting a €26,500 bond and surrendering his passport.

Bail has already been denied for Chapman, the flame-haired 28-year-old Russian also arrested in Sunday’s swoop on alleged “deep cover” agents living in the US.

The suspect’s British ex-husband, Alex Chapman, told Britain’s Daily Telegraph the spying claims did not surprise him, saying he met his wife-to-be, then Anna Kushchenko, in London in 2001, marrying five months later in Moscow.

Alex Chapman, 30, said when their marriage broke down in 2005 he feared she was being “conditioned” to become a spy, after he experienced the power her father held over her.

“Anna told me her father had been high up in the ranks of the KGB. She said he had been an agent in ‘old Russia’,” said the trainee psychiatrist. “Her father controlled everything in her life, and I felt she would have done anything for her dad.”

Britain’s Foreign Office said it was looking into Anna Chapman’s links to Britain.

Another suspect, who operated under the false identity of Juan Lazaro, confessed after his arrest that he was a Russian agent, saying he had more loyalty to the Kremlin than to his son, prosecutors said.

The suspect also said his Peruvian-born journalist wife, Vicky Pelaez, made several trips to South America to give intelligence to their Russian spymasters.

The couple were among the accused agents charged with trying to infiltrate US policymaking circles in a case that has threatened to upset efforts to “reset” ties between Washington and Moscow.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on a visit to Ukraine yesterday declined to comment on the spy scandal, saying only Washington is “committed to building a new and positive relation with Russia”.


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