US asks Cyprus to hand over items seized from spy suspect

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US authorities have asked Cyprus to hand over items seized from US-Russia spy suspect Christopher Metsos who jumped bail after his arrest this week, a police spokesman said on Saturday.

Authorities in the Mediterranean island are examining the US request which was made to the justice ministry on Friday, said Cyprus police spokesman Michalis Katsounotos.

At the time of his arrest on Tuesday as he tried to fly out of Cyprus, Metsos "was found in possession of a laptop computer and various other personal items," the spokesman told the Cyprus News Agency.

"All these items were confiscated and are in the possession of the police," he said. "The police along with the legal service of the republic are cooperating to see how this matter should be handled."

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

The 54-year-old Canadian suspect was released on 26,500 euros (32,330 dollars) bail paid in cash and has gone missing since Wednesday, prompting US criticism of the way the Cyprus authorities handled the situation.

It was a stunning twist to a Cold War-style espionage saga unveiled Monday 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.

Efforts to track down Metsos have proved vain since he vanished.

Justice Minister Loucas Louca said on Friday he believed that Metsos was no longer in the southern part of the divided island that is controlled by the Greek Cypriot authorities.

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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