Cyprus justice minister says alleged Russian spy’s laptop will be given to US

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cyprus official: US will get Russian spy’s laptop

NICOSIA, Cyprus — The confiscated laptop and other items belonging to an alleged Russian spy who vanished will be turned over to U.S. authorities, Cyprus’ justice minister said on Tuesday.

Loucas Louca said he will agree to a U.S. request for the laptop, three USB memory sticks and a digital camera belonging to 54-year-old Christopher Metsos.

Louca said the handover will go ahead after Cyprus Attorney General Petros Clerides advised that information Cypriot police retrieved from the items legally warrants their transfer to U.S. authorities.

The items were seized on June 29 when Metsos was arrested trying to board a flight to Budapest, Hungary after a 12-day stay on the east Mediterranean island. They were not returned to Metsos when a Cyprus court released him on $33,000 bail on June 30, after which he promptly disappeared.

Metsos was among 11 people indicted on charges of conspiring to act as secret agents in the United States on behalf of the SVR, the Russian Federation’s successor to the infamous KGB.

Metsos was the espionage ring’s accused paymaster.

The other 10 people arrested in the United States were sent back to Moscow after pleading guilty, part of a swap for prisoners in Russia.

Metsos disappearance rekindled memories of Cold War cloak-and-dagger intrigue, but deeply embarrassed Cypriot authorities. Cypriot president Dimitris Christofias deflected U.S. Justice department criticism, saying U.S. authorities were slow in providing certain documents to Cypriot police.

Louca confirmed earlier this month that Metsos had assumed the identity of a dead five-year-old Canadian boy to obtain a passport.

On Monday, Canadian authorities revoked the travel document.

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