Fate of 11th Russian spy suspect remains a mystery

Christopher Metsos

C.R. Metsos

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
As the world’s media attention is focused firmly on last week’s 14-member spy swap between Russia and the United States, the fate of the 11th member of the Russian deep-cover intelligence network remains unknown. The operative, known as Christopher R. Metsos, was listed as “defendant No. 1” in the FBI criminal complaint against the now infamous Russian illegals network. Like his co-defendants, he was not charged with espionage, but with “acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government”. He was also charged with money laundering, and was described as the main financier of his ten co-defendants. However, Metsos escaped arrest in the US, because during the FBI raids he was in Cyprus, where he had arrived on June 17. He was arrested on June 29 at the island’s Larnaca International Airport, while trying to board a flight for Budapest, Hungary. A much younger woman traveling with him was allowed to leave on the flight, according to Cypriot media. Remarkably, however, Metsos was soon released on bail, awaiting an extradition request from Washington. Cypriot authorities apparently felt Metsos would not be able to escape, because he handed over to them his Canadian passport. Predictably, however, on the following day, Metsos failed to report to Larnaca police, as stipulated in his bail release court order. According to reports, Metsos was last seen on the night of his arrest, at his downtown Larnaca hotel. He placed the “do not disturb” note on the door of his hotel room, took a shower, but did not sleep in his bed that night. He disappeared along with his two suitcases, but was allegedly not seen leaving the hotel. Considering the size of the two suitcases that vanished with him, it would seem unlikely that Metsos left on his own. There is also no evidence that the Canadian passport holder was part of the Russian-US spy swap deal. Meanwhile, authorities in Cyprus say they plan to deliver to the FBI the contents of Metsos’ “laptop and several USB memory sticks”, which were confiscated from him at Larnaca airport. A police spokesman said an announcement about this would be issued next week.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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