UK detains MP's aide 'for spying'

Russian woman who worked for British politician to be deported after being accused of being a "sleeper agent".

    Mike Hancock said he did not believe his assistant was a Russian spy [EPA]

    A Russian woman working as an assistant for a British politician is facing deportation from the United Kingdom after security services detained her on suspicion of espionage.

    UK media on Sunday reported that the government has already approved the deportation of Katia Zatuliveter, a 25-year-old accused of being a Russian intelligence "sleeper agent".

    "Her presence here is not considered to be conducive to national security," The Sunday Times newspaper quoted an unnamed security official as saying. "There was unhappiness about what she could have access to."

    A spokesman for the UK's interior ministry said it did "not routinely comment on individual cases".

    Security lapse

    Zatuliveter has worked for two and a half years as an assistant to Mike Hancock, a Liberal Democrat MP who sits on the House of Commons defence select committee.

    Alexander Nekrassov, a former Kremlin adviser, told Al Jazeera that even with the Cold War over, military secrets were still "at the top of any spy's shopping list".

    "I suspect in this case, the people who were vetting Katia missed her name because it doesn't sound like a Russian name," he said.

    "I suspect if she was Katia Ivanova - a classic Russian name - I think there would have been questions raised ...  because of course a Russian name as an assistant to an MP on the defence committee, the committee-of-committees, that would probably have raised suspicions."

    'Conscientious employee'

    Hancock denied that his assistant was a spy, but confirmed that she was subject to a deportation order and said that she would appeal.

    "No evidence has been given to her as to the reasons for all this ... She has been an excellent and conscientious employee and I wish her well in all this," a statement on his website said.

    Zatuliveter was detained and questioned by British security services earlier this year after returning from a holiday in Croatia.

    The case caught national attention because it occurred around the time US security services rounded up a Russian spy ring operating in the US.

    The incident marks the first time since the Cold War that someone working in the UK parliament has been accused being a Russian agent.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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