ONE of the suspects in an alleged spy ring has confessed to US federal agents that he worked for Russia’s intelligence service, federal prosecutors said yesterday.
The revelation came on a day when several defendants in the case were making court appearances and as 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 he was not 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 US attorneys wrote in a memo.
The lawyer for another suspect told a judge that his client was innocent.
Donald Heathfield and his wife, Tracey Lee Ann Foley, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, appeared in federal court in Boston today for a bail hearing.
A judge granted a delay until July 16 to give their new lawyers time to prepare.
Red-faced authorities in Cyprus searched airports, ports and yacht marinas yesterday in a hunt for a suspected Russian spy-ring paymaster who vanished after being freed on bail.
Police also examined surveillance video from crossing points on the war-divided island, fearing the suspect may have slipped into the breakaway north of the island, a diplomatic no-mans-land recognised only by Turkey.
Justice Minister Loucas Louca yesterday admitted a judge’s decision to release Christopher Robert Metsos “may have been mistaken” but 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.
Metsos’ disappearance is a major embarrassment to the Cypriot government, which has promised to do everything possible to recapture him. The suspect was travelling on a Canadian passport and had said he was a tourist.
Metsos was arrested in Cyprus on Tuesday while waiting to board a flight for Budapest, Hungary, but a Cypriot judge freed him on €27,000 bail.
He failed to appear on Wednesday for a required meeting with police.
Metsos, 54, is wanted in the US on charges that he supplied money to a spy ring that operated under deep cover in America’s suburbs.
Ten other spy suspects were arrested in the US on Sunday, and nine of them faced bail hearings last night at federal courts in the United States.
A tenth suspect, 28-year-old Anna Chapman, has already been denied bail.
She faces a potential penalty of five years in prison if convicted.
Most others are charged with crimes carrying terms of up to 25 years.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved