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Government to appeal release of defendant in spy case

The government said yesterday it planned to appeal a decision to release one of the defendants in the Russian spy case on bail.

The announcement came from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, four days after bail was set for a U.S. citizen charged in the case.

A magistrate judge in Manhattan had said the woman, Peruvian-born Vicky Pelaez, could be released on $250,000 bail with electronic monitoring and home detention.

The judge said when he set bail that she could not be released before this week because it would take time to set up the bail requirements.

An appeal means that a bail hearing will occur before a federal judge, who will decide whether to uphold the findings of the magistrate judge.

Defense attorney John M. Rodriguez said yesterday that he received a copy of a letter prosecutors had sent the court saying they were appealing. He said he expected his client to remain jailed pending the outcome of a hearing this afternoon.

Pelaez is among 11 defendants charged with being part of a spy ring that prosecutors say for the past decade has engaged in secret global travel with false passports, secret code words, fake names, invisible ink and encrypted radio.

The government has opposed the release on bail of any of the defendants, saying they would flee if they had the opportunity.

Defendant Christopher Metsos disappeared on the Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus soon after a judge there freed him on $32,500 bail.

He had been charged by U.S. authorities with supplying funds to the other members of the alleged ring.

Pelaez, a prominent Spanish-language journalist, is the wife of a defendant identified in court documents as Juan Lazaro. Prosecutors say he has admitted that his wife passed letters to the Russian intelligence service on his behalf.

They say he also has admitted that the name Juan Lazaro is fake, that he wasn't born in Uruguay, and that he is not a citizen of Peru, as he had long claimed.

Prosecutors say he also admits his home in Yonkers has been paid for by Russian intelligence.

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