US judge refuses to grant bail to three Russian spy suspects

 

THREE RUSSIAN spy suspects have been refused bail because they pose “a risk of flight”.

A US judge said the suspects Michael Zottoli, Patricia Mills and Mikhail Semenko would appear in court again on July 7th.

They will appear at a preliminary hearing in the case of 10 suspects arrested by US authorities under suspicion of operating as Russian agents.

Prosecutors said Mr Zottoli admitted his real name was Mikhail Kutzik and Ms Mills confessed her real name was Natalia Pereverzeva.

Both admitted to being Russian citizens living in the US under false identities.

Meanwhile, the former husband of alleged Russian spy Anna Chapman spoke yesterday of his suspicions that she was being “conditioned” by shadowy contacts during their marriage.

The 28-year-old is one of 11 people accused by the United States of working as secret agents for Russia’s intelligence service, the SVR.

Alex Chapman (30), from Bournemouth, Dorset, was married to the Russian, maiden name Kushchenko, for four years before they divorced in 2006.

Trainee psychiatrist Mr Chapman, who said he was quizzed yesterday by a Security Service officer about his relationship with Ms Chapman, told the Daily Telegraphhis ex-wife’s personality had unexpectedly changed during their time together.

He explained: “There was such a dramatic change in the way she thought and the way she went about things, I felt I hardly knew her any more.

“It was like someone having a mid-life crisis, but in their 20s. She would arrange to go out but when I said I would join her she told me not to bother because they would all be speaking Russian. She was adamant I wasn’t to meet them.

“She had never been materialistic during the years we were together, but in 2005 and 2006 she started having these meetings with people she referred to as ‘Russian friends’. She was transformed into someone with access to a lot of money, boasting about all the influential people she was meeting.”

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said yesterday it was looking into Ms Chapman’s connections to Britain. But the department refused to comment on whether it was investigating the possibility that she spied against the UK while living here.

Mr Chapman told the paper that he did not believe his ex-wife was working as a spy in the UK but suspected she had been conditioned towards that end.

He said: “When she was still living in London she fell in with a group of people who had a lot of influence. She would go to film premieres and became arrogant and obnoxious, always going on about powerful people she was meeting.”

Ms Chapman, who was arrested in New York on Monday, worked in London between 2003 and 2007. During their marriage, the couple rented a flat in Stoke Newington, north London.

Mr Chapman met the Russian in September 2001 when she was an economics student at Moscow University. He told the paper: “Anna was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen in my life.” – (PA)