Russian spy ring suspect jumps bail in Cyprus

Larnaca police station, where Christopher Metsos was released on bail in Cyprus.

From Helena Smith, the Guardian:  The Russian espionage drama intensfied tonight as the alleged paymaster in the "deep cover" spy ring failed to answer bail in Cyprus.

An arrest warrant was issued for Christopher Metsos, the 11th suspected member of the operation, after he failed to report to a police station in Larnaka, the Guardian has learned.

Metsos, 55, was arrested in Cyprus on Tuesday but, to the surprise of Cypriot police, was released on bail. Ten other accused are in custody in the US, after the FBI broke up the alleged ring on Monday.

"An arrest warrant has been issued and if found he will be arrested immediately," an officer at the police station in Larnaka told the Guardian. "He has broken his pledge to be here. …"

Suspects arrested on the island are almost always held in custody for fear they may attempt to flee through the internationally unrecognised Turkish-run enclave of northern Cyprus. Both Turkey and Syria are only short boat rides away. …

The strategic Mediterranean island has long been considered a staging post for spies. The US and Russian embassies stand only metres apart in the capital, Nicosia. Topped with satellite dishes and listening devices, both spend an inordinate amount of time trying to track each other.

Cyprus has a flourishing Russian community, with Russian advertisements, media and shops selling Russian goods in abundance. Unlike any other EU state, the Cypriot government is also headed by a communist party, Akel, that has strong ties to Moscow.  (photo: Andreas Lazarou/AFP/Getty)

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