A man suspected of being the 11th member of a Russian spy ring alleged to have operated in the United States has been arrested and released on bail in Greek Cyprus, police said on Tuesday.
Robert Christopher Metsos, 55, was arrested at Greek Cyprus's Larnaca airport as he tried to leave the Mediterranean island for Budapest early on Tuesday, police said.
A magistrate released Metsos on 20,000 euros ($24,410) bail to reappear in court within 30 days, when an extradition hearing will start. The hearing was scheduled for July 29.
"Based on the (Interpol) red notice we received, he is wanted for money laundering and espionage," police spokesman Michalis Katsounotos told Reuters.
Metsos, a Canadian passport holder, has been named in U.S. court documents as one of 11 individuals operating as covert agents for Russia in the U.S. for more than a decade. The other 10 were arrested in the United States on Sunday.
Russia has described the U.S. accusations as baseless.
Greek Cyprus police had requested Metsos remain in custody until his extradition hearing, but this was rejected by court. He will be required to report to a police station once a day until his extradition hearing in a months' time.
It is highly unusual for Greek Cyprus courts to grant bail for foreign nationals pending extradition.
Asked about the decision to free Metsos on bail, Katsounotos said: "It is an issue for the court which examined the case, and which imposed certain conditions."
U.S. authorities say the 11 were involved in a spy ring that carried out deep-cover work in the United States to recruit political sources and gather information for the Russian government.
Metsos has been accused of receiving and making payments to the other members of the group, including getting payments during a brush-pass with a Russian government official who was affiliated with the Russian mission to the United Nations in New York, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
Documents that Greek Cypriot authorities submitted to court said the Interpol red alert for Metsos was issued on June 26. It said he was thought to have laundered some $40,000.
"He has to appear at a police station once a day and has handed in his travel documents to police," Katsounotos said.
It was not immediately clear why Metsos was in Greek Cyprus, a popular holiday destination with Europeans. He had arrived in Greek Cyprus on June 17 and had been staying alone at a hotel in Larnaca, on the east Mediterranean island's southern coast.
ReutersGüncelleme Tarihi: 29 Haziran 2010, 19:46