In this courtroom sketch, Anna Chapman, left, Vicky Pelaez, second from left, the defendant known as "Richard Murphy", center, the defendant known as "Cynthia Murphy", second from right, and the defendant known as "Juan Lazaro" are seen in Manhattan federal court in New York, Monday, June 28, 2010. The Murphys, Lazaro, and Pelaez are among the 10 people the FBI arrested Monday for allegedly serving for years as secret agents of Russia's intelligence organ, the SVR, with the goal of penetrating U.S. government policymaking circles. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)
The federal government plans to appeal a decision to grant bail to one of the defendants in the Russian spy case.
United States Attorney Preet Bharara said today that he will appeal the decision to release former El Diario/La Prensa columnist Vicky Palaez on bail. The Yonkers resident is the only defendant currently eligible for release.
The announcement comes four days after a magistrate judge decided that a she was not a flight risk and could be released provided she post a $250,000 bond with the assurance of $10,000 cash and three co-signers.
Her release would also keep the columnist under house arrest with electronic monitoring. A hearing on the issue is scheduled to take place tomorrow in the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan.
Defense attorney John M. Rodriguez said Tuesday 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 Wednesday afternoon.
Pelaez is among 11 defendants charged with being part of a spy ring that prosecutors say for the past ast 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, N.Y., has been paid for by Russian intelligence.