Alleged Russian spy released on bail
One of the defendants in an alleged Russian spy-ring has been released on bail after a hearing in New York.
The journalist is one of nine suspects facing charges, and US prosecutors claim another suspect has admitted working for the Russian intelligence service.
Four of the defendants were present before the judge in the city of New York. In case of Richard and Cynthia Murphy, the court said that their identities were not well-enough established and the court was not certain of whom they, in fact, were. As their identities were considered fake, they were denied bail.
Vicky Pelaez was granted bail under very strict conditions. She was required to put forward a US$250,000 bond, with $10,000 in cash, and will be under home arrest and constant electronic surveillance.
After Vicky Pelaez’s release she called her former boss, who said that he believes that all the allegations put forward by the FBI and the Department of Justice against Vicky Pelaez are completely false.
“The judge took into consideration that Vicky Pelaez did not know any of these people,” commented Gerson Borrero, columnist at El Diario La Prensa. He said that Vicky Pelaez is an opinionated columnist and questioned “why is it that the FBI spent all this time and God-knows-how-many millions of dollars of taxpayer money to wind up with people that are really not being accused of being spies.”
Meanwhile, Richard and Cynthia Murphy, having been denied bail, are being held in separate facilities. Their lawyers have already asked the government to relocate them to one facility so that their children, who are in serious shock as a result of the situation, have a chance to visit them.
The prosecutor is saying that this case is “unique,” constantly embellishing his appeal with words like “extraordinary”, “devious”, “scandalous” and “very sophisticated.”
According to the criminal complaint filed by the Department of Justice, the FBI has been gathering evidence for a decade, trying to figure out who exactly the people involved in the “spy network” were, what they were doing and how they were doing it.
The criminal complaints filed against the defendants are huge and contain the evidence collected by the FBI up to this moment, including electronic surveillance and undercover agents who talked to some of the defendants, like Anna Chapman, who was denied bail.
Both Russia and the US expressed hope that the case will not undermine the current reset in bilateral relations. The Russian side has already confirmed that some of the defendants are Russian citizens, but insist that they did no activities against the US.
The prosecution insists that all the detainees have managed to create an influential network that infiltrated the American society and attempted to infiltrate policy making circles.
Spy or Political Prisoner?
Pelaez said she is innocent and that the only reason the US government may have gone after her is because of her political views.
“She is very critical of the US policies overseas; especially in Latin America and the Middle East” said blogger and activist Carlos A. Quiroz.
Quiroz believes that there is a high probability of political persecution in this case. Pelaez has no connection to Russia, however her husband’s ties and false identity are contributing to her charges, possibly as an accomplice.
“There is no evidence,” said Quiroz.
“When the judge ordered for her to have house arrest and to be freed on bail, the prosecutors for the US government protested and the judge asked for evidence, but they couldn’t show anything in court.”
Quiroz argued that that shows there is something else behind the persecution of Pelaez.