Russia silent on number of Russians arrested in spy scandal

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The Russian foreign ministry on Thursday declined to comment on how many of the 11 people arrested in the "deep cover" spy scandal with the United States were Russian citizens.

"I cannot tell you anything. I simply do not have complete information on this matter," foreign ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said in televised comments.

Ten suspects arrested in the scandal were due to request bail at hearings in the United States on Thursday.

Another suspect, alleged to be the paymaster of the ring, was arrested in Cyprus but then released on bail, after which he vanished.

The foreign ministry has said in a statement on Tuesday that the incident involved "Russian citizens who came to the United States at different times." But how many were originally Russian remains unclear.

One of the suspects, Anna Chapman, 28, is believed to be a Russian businesswoman while fellow defendant Mikhail Semenko is the only suspect with obviously Slavic name.

Nesterenko vowed that consular assistance would be given to Russian citizens arrested in the scandal.

© 2010 AFP

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