US fights bail for alleged Russian agent

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US prosecutors said Tuesday they are appealing against a decision to grant bail to a New York journalist among 11 people accused of forming a Russian spying ring.

Vicky Pelaez, a columnist for the Spanish language newspaper El Diario, was granted bail last week by a New York magistrate. She was to remain at home under electronic monitoring but had not yet been freed Tuesday because of delays over the long July 4th Independence Day weekend.

The US attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, issued a statement saying his "office will appeal the bail determination."

Pelaez is a Peruvian-born US citizen. Her husband, who the government says has admitted to operating under the false name of Juan Lazaro, is also one of the alleged spying gang.

The 11 are accused of being deep-cover agents for the Russian government. However they have not been charged with espionage, but the less serious crimes of failing to register as foreign agents and conspiring to launder money.

Prosecutors have argued against granting any of the suspects bail, saying they are practiced at deceit and could seek refuge on Russian territory, such as the UN mission or consulate in New York.

Eleven people are accused, 10 of them being arrested in New York, Boston and in Virginia. An eleventh man was arrested in Cyprus, but vanished after jumping bail.

© 2010 AFP

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