Cypriot minister: alleged Russian spy could have fled

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Cyprus Justice Minister Loucas Louca said on Friday that a key suspect in the US-Russia spy scandal who jumped bail could have fled the Greek controlled part of the divided Mediterranean island.

"I think he has gone from Cyprus, that is what I believe based on some indications but I have no hard evidence," Louca told AFP, as police continued to hunt for the suspect.

"When I say Cyprus I mean the area that is controlled by the government," he said, referring to the Greek-Cypriot south. He did not elaborate.

A UN-patrolled dividing line separates the Greek-Cypriot south from the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is recognised only by Turkey.

Canadian suspect Christopher Metsos was arrested at Larnaca airport on Tuesday as he tried to board a flight to Budapest, after immigration officers discovered his name on a stop list.

But he was released on bail and has gone missing since then.

Police on Friday said they were still searching for Metsos.

Police have said all exit points from the Mediterranean island were being monitored as was the UN-monitored dividing line.

There was speculation that Metsos, 54, might seek to take advantage of the fact that the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north has no extradition treaties and is a well-known haven for fugitives.

A picture of Metsos was being circulated in the hope that the public will help in spotting the fugitive, a police spokesman said.

The suspect's disappearance on Wednesday provided a stunning twist to a Cold War-style espionage saga that has threatened to upset major efforts to reset ties between Washington and Moscow.

It also prompted Washington to express its "disappointment" with Cyprus.

© 2010 AFP

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