Cyprus police arrest Canadian suspect in US-Russia spy case

29th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Cypriot police said they had arrested a Canadian man wanted in connection with an alleged Russian spy ring broken up in the United States as he was about to board an early Tuesday flight to Budapest.

Christopher Robert Metsos, 54, was arrested at Larnaca airport after immigration officers discovered his name on a stop list.

Police said Cypriot authorities had received a so-called Red Notice from Interpol on Saturday that Metsos was wanted.

During proceedings in a Larnaca district court later Tuesday, police identified Metsos as a Canadian and said he was holding a US passport.

Asked later for details, police spokesman Michalis Katsounotos said Metsos was carrying a Canadian passport. When asked about the supposed US passport, he declined to answer.

A spokesman at the US embassy in Nicosia would say only that "the individual who is mentioned is not a US citizen, but the subject of a Red Notice."

Metsos was released on 20,000 euros (24,400 dollars) bail to await extradition.

On Monday, US authorities announced the arrest of 10 "deep-cover" suspects accused of infiltrating policymaking and reporting back to Moscow.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation secretly monitored the mission for more than 10 years and authorities said an 11th suspect remained at large Tuesday.

He was named as Metsos and said to have been under surveillance in Queens in New York in May 2004 when he received a bag containing money from an official associated with Russia's UN mission.

Two more suspects were followed in June 2006 to Wurstboro, New York, where they dug up a package of money buried there by Metsos.

Police told the court that Metsos was wanted in the United States for spying on behalf of Russia and for laundering 40,000 dollars (32,800 euros).

Defence lawyer Michalis Papathanasiou objected to him being held in custody for 30 days until his extradition papers arrive.

The court allowed Metsos to go free on the condition that he visits the central Larnaca police station every day and surrender his travel documents.

His extradition hearing was scheduled for July 29.

Metsos arrived in Cyprus on June 17 and was staying at a central Larnaca hotel, authorities said.

The court also heard that he had been married and has a son in Paris.

© 2010 AFP

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