Friday, July 2, 2010

Prosecutors: NY Suspect Spills Russia Spy Details

Via Google (AP) -

Within hours of his capture, U.S. prosecutors say, Russian spy suspect Juan Lazaro admitted his name was an alias.

So who is he? Lazaro wasn't saying — not "even for his son," court papers say.

Lazaro's admission — and defiance — was revealed Thursday by federal prosecutors arguing against bail for him, his wife and another couple with children. The U.S. government claims those defendants and seven others were part of a spy ring on assignment to infiltrate America's cities and suburbs for the Russian intelligence service.

Their cover was so deep, "there is no inkling at all that their children who they live with have any idea their parents are Russian agents," Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Farbiarz told U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis.

Farbiarz warned that a powerful and sophisticated network of U.S.-based Russian agents was eager to help defendants in the spy ring flee the country if they were released on bail.

"There are a lot of Russian government officials in the United States who are actively assisting this conspiracy," he said.


The judge ruled after Farbiarz said the evidence against the defendants continued to mount and the case was solid.

"Judge, this is a case where the evidence is extraordinarily strong," Farbiarz said. "Prosecutors don't get cases like this very often."

The decision to set bail for one defendant came as police on the island nation of Cyprus searched airports, ports and yacht marinas to find a man who had been going by the name Christopher Metsos, who disappeared after a judge there freed him on $32,500 bail. Metsos failed to show up Wednesday for a required meeting with police. He was charged by U.S. authorities with supplying funds to the other members of the spy ring.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Cyprus flatly denied local media reports Friday that Metsos was in U.S. custody at the embassy compound.

U.S. Embassy spokesman James Ellickson-Brown said U.S. authorities have no knowledge of Metsos' whereabouts and the search effort for Metsos is entirely in the hands of Cypriot authorities.

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