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Home News Two accused Russian spies revealed true identity: US

Two accused Russian spies revealed true identity: US

Published on 02/07/2010

Two accused Russian spies have been the first to give up their true identities, US prosecutors said Friday, as the government continued to lay out their case in the espionage saga.

Suspects “Michael Zottoli” and “Patricia Mills” — a married couple who were ordered to be kept in detention Friday along with a third suspect Mikhail Semenko — both confessed in post-arrest statements that their given names were fake and that they in fact were Russian citizens, prosecutors said.

“Zottoli” admitted his true name was Mikhail Kutzik and that his real birth date was different to the one given under his cover.

“Mills” confessed her real name was Natalia Pereverzeva and that her family still live in Russia.

Ahead of the hearing Friday, prosecutors insisted to the magistrate judge that the suspects would certainly flee if freed on bond, and the judge agreed the three were “at risk of flight.”

Prosecutors also argued the government’s case has strengthened since the original complaint Sunday unveiled the 11 alleged “deep cover” agents for Russia were living in the United States.

Ten of the suspects were arrested in the explosive saga that has recalled the shadowy Cold War hostilities between the superpowers, while the 11th, arrested in Cyprus, apparently vanished after being granted bail.

Prosecutors said Friday a wealth of evidence has yet to be revealed, with “well over” 100 decrypted messages between the conspirators, compared to only 10 such messages mentioned in complaints so far.

In searches of Kutzik and Pereverzeva’s home and rented safe deposit boxes, since their arrest, prosecutors said among other evidence 80,000 dollars in cash was found in eight envelopes, “packaged in exactly the same way” as those recovered in New Jersey this week in search warrants on other suspects.

The court had been unlikely to grant the three suspects bail, with US authorities still sweating over the disappearance in the saga of eleventh suspect Christopher Metsos, who vanished in Cyprus after posting a 26,500-euro (32,330-dollar) bond and surrendering his passport.