Britain Rules To Let ‘Spy’ Remain
A Home Office spokesman said officials are disappointed by the ruling.
Published: November 30, 2011 (Issue # 1685)
LONDON — A special immigration tribunal ruled Tuesday that a Russian former lawmaker’s aide who was accused of being a spy can stay in Britain.
The tribunal concluded that Ekaterina Zatuliveter — who had an affair with her boss, a British lawmaker — was not a threat to national security despite government claims.
The commission’s 28-page ruling left open the small possibility that Zatuliveter, who studied at the international relations faculty of St. Petersburg State University, might be a Russian agent.
“We cannot exclude the possibility that we have been gulled,” the report from judge John Mitting states. “But, if we have been, it has been by a supremely competent and rigorously trained operative.”
The three-person panel concluded this was highly unlikely based on her education and training.
The 26-year-old Russian woman was arrested in December on suspicion of using her job in the office of legislator Mike Hancock to pass information to Russian intelligence. Zatuliveter admitted she had a four-year affair with her boss, a Liberal Demcocrat who served on the sensitive Defense Committee, but said she was not a secret agent.
She has not been charged with spying but British authorities wanted to deport her as a threat to national security. Much of the evidence was heard in secret, so the details of the case against her have not been made public.
A Home Office spokesman who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government policy said officials are disappointed by the ruling and stand by the decision to seek Zatuliveter’s deportation.
“The court ruled that there were ample grounds for suspicion, we are therefore very disappointed by the court’s judgment and stand by our decision to pursue deportation on national security grounds,” the spokesman said.
Hancock has stepped down from the Defense Committee but has not commented publicly on the allegations.