UK judge relaxes bail conditions of Russian 'spy'

11th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

A British judge agreed Friday to relax the bail restrictions of a Russian woman fighting deportation over allegations that she spied for Moscow while working for a lawmaker in London.

Katia Zatuliveter, 25, must wait until a hearing in October to challenge allegations that she spied for Russian intelligence when she was a researcher for MP Mike Hancock, and is under strict bail conditions until then.

At the Special Immigrations Appeal Commission (SIAC) on Friday, judge John Mitting agreed to lift some of the "quite severe" restrictions, saying he wanted to make it easier for her to get a job.

Zatuliveter had been banned from visiting parliament or contacting Hancock, and had been required to notify Home Secretary Theresa May if she met anyone other than her immediate family and her legal team.

Russian's foreign ministry condemned her treatment last month as house arrest and said the situation was "inadmissable", demanding that she be set free or presented with substantiated charges.

Her case is likely to come up when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visits Britain next week.

Speaking at the hearing Friday, the judge said: "I am very keen she should be free to work in a job that does not, in the view of the secretary of state, propose a risk to national security."

Under the revised conditions, Zatuliveter is free to have visitors to her home. She must notify the home secretary after attending a job interview but does not need prior clearance.

Before the ruling, her lawyers had said her bail conditions made it impossible to get a job, and added that she had the prospect of employment with news channel Russia Today.

The channel's chief editor, Margarita Simonyan, told the RIA Novosti news agency on Friday: "We are interested in working with Ekaterina (Katia) Zatuliveter and she knows about this.

"We will only be able to give more detailed information once talks have been concluded with Ekaterina herself."

Zatuliveter began working for Hancock, who sits on a parliamentary defence committee, in November 2006. She was arrested in December and Britain now wants to deport her for being a threat to national security.

She denies the allegations and has vowed to fight to stay in Britain.

© 2011 AFP

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