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Lawyer: Case thin against client in spy case

July 1, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The lawyer for a Boston-area man accused of spying for Russia says the only thing his client has infiltrated are "neighborhoods, cocktail parties and the PTA."Nine defendants in the case were making bids to be released from jail pending trial, even as authorities scoured a Mediterranean island for an alleged co-conspirator who disappeared after he was granted bail.

On Thursday, Donald Heathfield and his wife, Tracey Lee Ann Foley appeared in federal court in Boston for a bail hearing. A judge granted a delay until July 16 to give their new lawyers time to prepare.

Hearings also were set for courts in New York and Alexandria, Va., for all but one of the 10 people arrested over the weekend by federal authorities in the United States.

Mikhail Semenko, Michael Zottoli and Patricia Mills, all of Arlington, Va., were set for a hearing before Magistrate Judge Theresa Buchanan in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. Defendants Richard Murphy, Cynthia Murphy, Juan Lazaro and Vicky Pelaez were to go before a judge in New York.

All have been charged with being foreign agents. Officials said the suspects will all eventually be transferred to New York, where the charges were filed.

The criminal complaint alleges that either Heathfield or Foley sent messages to Moscow talking about turnover at the CIA that was supposedly "received in private conversation" with a former congressional aide. Other messages described Heathfield establishing contact with a former high ranking U.S. national security official, and with a U.S. researcher who worked on bunker-busting nuclear warheads.

Eight of the suspects were accused by prosecutors of being foreign-born, husband-and-wife teams who were supposed to be Americanizing themselves and gradually developing ties to policymaking circles in the U.S.

Most were living under assumed identities, according to the FBI. Their true names and citizenship remain unknown, but several are suspected of being Russians by birth.

Heathfield claimed to be a Canadian but was using a birth certificate of a deceased Canadian boy, agents said in a court filing. His wife, Foley, purported to be from Canada, too, but investigators said they searched a family safe deposit box found photographs taken of her when she was in her 20s that had been developed by a Soviet film company.

Meantime, authorities searched ports, airports and yacht marinas Thursday to find an 11th person who was arrested in Cyprus but disappeared after a judge there freed him on $32,500 bail. The man, who had gone by the name Christopher Metsos, failed to show up Wednesday for a required meeting with police.

Latest Developments:

  • Not due in court Thursday was Russian beauty Anna Chapman, the alleged spy whose heavy presence on the Internet and New York party scene has made her a tabloid sensation. She was previously ordered held without bail.
  • Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague said the U.K. was investigating whether Foley might have used a forged British passport. The British spy agency MI5 also is investigating the extent to which Foley and Chapman had links to London, and will likely seek to find out whether either attempted to recruit British officials as informants.
  • Cypriot Justice Minister Loucas Louca on Thursday admitted that a judge's decision to release Metsos on bail "may have been mistaken" and said authorities were examining leads on his possible whereabouts.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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