Huffpost New York

Alleged Russian Spies Charged In Federal Indictment

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NEW YORK — The 11 people accused of spying for Russia were formally charged in a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday, more than a week after the FBI announced their arrests.

The indictment charged all the defendants with conspiring to act as secret agents and also charged nine of them with conspiracy to commit money laundering. And it demanded that those accused of money laundering return any assets used in the offense.

The indictment, a charging document that can be used at trial, contains far fewer details of the alleged crimes than were inside two criminal complaints filed last week. The defendants were scheduled to be arraigned Thursday on the indictment.

Prosecutors released a copy of the indictment as federal judges in Boston and Alexandria, Va., signed orders directing that five defendants arrested in Massachusetts and Virginia be transferred to New York. All were charged in Manhattan and had to be brought there eventually.

The legal developments came amid reports that American officials were meeting with the Russian ambassador in Washington and a claim by the brother of a convicted spy in Russia that his brother has been told he will be swapped for Russians arrested in the United States.

Janice Oh, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, declined to comment on speculation about a spy swap.

U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood, who has been assigned the case, signed an order Wednesday requiring that defendant Vicky Palaez remain detained until Wood can hear an appeal by the government of a $250,000 bail package that was approved last week by a magistrate judge.

The bail hearing was set for Friday for Palaez, a U.S. citizen.

John Rodriguez, a lawyer for Pelaez, said his client has met the conditions required for her release. Her bail conditions require her to be remain at home, where an electronic bracelet will monitor her whereabouts.

The defendants were accused of living seemingly ordinary lives in America while they acted as unregistered agents for the Russian government, sending secret messages and carrying out orders they received from their Russian contacts.

All have remained in custody except for a man identified as Christopher R. Metsos, who was ordered released on bail last week by a court in Cyprus and is now a fugitive.

Messages left with other lawyers for five defendants in New York Wednesday have not immediately been returned.


Associated Press writer Tom Hays contributed to this report.