Cyprus police find no trace of escaped Russian spy

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Cyprus police admitted on Tuesday that the authorities were unlikely to find US-Russia spy suspect Christopher Metsos who jumped bail after his arrest last week.

In his first public comments since the 54-year-old disappeared, Cyprus police chief Michalis Papageorgiou said the alleged spy was now beyond the reach of the Cypriot authorities.

"All the indications lead to the conclusion that Metsos has left Cyprus," he told state radio.

It is the first time the police hierarchy have admitted they are unable to find Metsos, despite doing "everything that was legally possible," according to Papageorgiou.

US authorities on Friday asked Cyprus to hand over items seized from the spy suspect, but a police spokesman said a laptop computer and several USBs were still under examination.

Only once the items have been searched for information relating to his extradition charges would a decision be made on whether to hand Metsos's personal belongings to US authorities, police spokesman Michalis Katsounotos told the Cyprus News Agency.

Immigration officers arrested Metsos at Larnaca airport as he tried to board a flight to Budapest on June 30, after they found his name on a stop list.

The Canadian suspect was released on 26,500 euros (32,330 dollars) bail and has been missing since Wednesday, prompting US criticism of the way Cyprus handled the situation.

It was a stunning twist to a Cold War-style espionage saga unveiled by US authorities who announced the arrest of 10 "deep cover" suspects accused of infiltrating policymaking circles and reporting back to Moscow.

Metsos was named as the 11th suspect and said to have been under surveillance in New York City in May 2004 when he received a bag containing money from an official associated with Russia's UN mission.

Justice Minister Loucas Louca said on Friday he believed that Metsos was no longer in the southern part of the divided island.

He has since confirmed that the Canadian passport Metsos was travelling on carried the name of a Canadian child who died at the age of five.

Metsos could have made a run for the breakaway Turkish Cypriot statelet in the north, recognised only by Turkey, that has no extradition treaties and is a well-known haven for fugitives.

© 2010 AFP

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