sábado, abril 13

Former FBI informant accused of lies about Biden said he had contacts with Russia

A former FBI informant accused of making false corruption allegations about President Biden and his son Hunter — which were widely publicized by Republicans — claimed to have received information from Russian intelligence services, according to a court filing Tuesday.

In the memo, prosecutors described the former informant, Alexander Smirnov, 43, as a serial liar incapable of telling the truth about even the most basic details of his own life. But Mr. Smirnov told federal investigators that “officials associated with Russian intelligence were involved in spreading a story” about Hunter Biden.

These revelations, including Mr. Smirnov’s unverifiable claim that he met with Russian intelligence officials just three months ago, put him at risk of flight and endangered national security, Justice Department officials said. Mr. Smirnov had been detained in Las Vegas, where he has resided since 2022, since his arrest last week.

He was released Tuesday on personal recognizance after a detention hearing, said his attorneys, David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld.

Prosecutors did not specify what story Russian intelligence allegedly fed to Mr. Smirnov, an Israeli citizen. But they suggested they couldn’t believe anything he said. And they had plenty of stories to choose from.

The memo describes Mr. Smirnov as a human hall of mirrors: He provided the FBI with false information about the Bidens and misled prosecutors about his wealth, estimated at $6 million, while telling them he was working in the security sector, even though the government could find no evidence that it was true.

“The misinformation he is spreading is not limited” to his false claims about the Bidens, wrote prosecutors working for David C. Weiss, the special counsel investigating Hunter Biden on tax and money-related charges. fire arms.

“He is actively peddling new lies that could impact the U.S. election after meeting with Russian intelligence officials in November,” they added.

This appears to refer to Mr. Smirnov’s claim, made in late 2023 to the FBI, that he spoke to the head of a Russian intelligence unit who said he had intercepted phone calls made by guests at a hotel in the foreigner. These include «several calls made by prominent American figures that the Russian government could use as ‘kompromat’ during the 2024 elections,» according to prosecutors.

Mr. Smirnov also told his FBI handler that he had participated in meetings to help resolve the war in Ukraine and that he knew of assassination squads operating in «a third country.»

Last week, Mr. Weiss accused Mr. Smirnov of fabricating allegations that President Biden and his son each demanded $5 million in bribes from the Ukrainian energy giant, Burisma, demanding the money to protect the company from an investigation by the country’s attorney general.

The allegations, which prosecutors now view as blatant fabrications driven by Mr. Smirnov’s animosity toward the president, were widely promoted by congressional Republicans who cited them as justification for their now-stalled efforts to impeach Mr. Biden .

Mr. Smirnov was arrested last week as he left an international flight after what prosecutors described as «a month-long foreign trip to several countries.» During that trip, he claimed to have had contact with several foreign intelligence agencies and planned to embark on a similar trip a few days later, according to the memo.

What makes the Smirnov affair so unusual, aside from its political significance, is the FBI’s willingness to publicly burn a confidential informant who was on the bureau’s payroll as recently as last year. The file contained excerpts from his source reporting documents, raw notes of interviews between managers and informants that are considered some of the most sensitive federal law enforcement documents.

Also on Tuesday, Hunter Biden’s legal team filed motions in federal court, arguing that Mr. Smirnov’s arrest — while unrelated to the charges against Mr. Biden — has tainted public perception at the towards their client, making fair trials impossible.

“It now seems clear that Smirnov’s allegations have infected this case,” said Abbe Lowell, Mr. Biden’s lawyer, who has accused Mr. Weiss of following “Mr. Biden.” Smirnov in his rabbit hole of lies.