Canada cooperating in Russian spy probe

30th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Canada is cooperating with its allies in an investigation of a Cold War-style Russian spy ring smashed by US authorities, the government said Tuesday, after up to four suspects claimed to be Canadian.

"This is an American investigation," Canada's foreign affairs department said in an email to AFP. "We continue to work with our allies on the issue. As the investigation is ongoing we have no comment at this time."

The US Justice Department said 10 "deep-cover" suspects, accused of infiltrating US policymaking for the Kremlin, had been detained on suspicion of seeking details of US nuclear weapons and foreign policy.

Moscow admitted that Russian citizens had been arrested but the foreign ministry denied they had "committed any kind of actions directed against the interests of the United States."

Five of the accused appeared in court in New York on Monday and were ordered to remain in custody until a July 27 preliminary hearing. A bail hearing was set for Thursday.

Another five suspects were set to appear before courts in Virginia and Massachusetts.

A key eleventh suspect, named as Canadian Christopher Robert Metsos, 54, was arrested by Cypriot police at Larnaca airport as he prepared to board an early-morning flight to Budapest, officials said.

Metsos had been under surveillance in Queens, New York in May 2004 when he received a bag of money from an official associated with Russia's UN mission, the complaint alleges.

He was released on 20,000 euros (24,400 dollars) bail to await extradition, the Cypriot authorities said.

In addition to Metsos, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp said defendants known as Donald Howard Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Foley claimed to have been born in Canada, and Patricia Mills posed as a Canadian citizen.

© 2010 AFP

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