October 2, 2011
SPECIAL REPORT - A British court has ruled out that former head of the country's MI5 intelligence service Sir Stephen Lander may take part in deciding the deportation of alleged Russian spy Katia Zatuliveter, the BBC reports.
Earlier, lawyers of the 26-year-old Zatuliveter said her arrest was most probably initiated by MI5 and Sir Stephen could therefore not be impartial. For this reason, they were strongly opposed to ex-intelligence chief's involvement. September 29th, however, witnessed Judge Sir John Edward Mitting saying that the Special Immigration Appeals Commission needed Stephen Lander's expertise.
Mr Justice Mitting's decision appears rather controversial and poorly reasoned, with intelligence chief's advisory assistance being sort of irrelevant, given that Katia Zatuliveter was initially charged with violating immigration laws, not espionage. Anyway, Sir Lander, who had been chairing MI5 from 1996 to 2002, will now become part of the commission authorized to deliver the final verdict on whether she should be deported from the United Kingdom or not. Prosecutors insist on the deportation for reasons of the country's national security. Hearings of the case are scheduled for October 18th -21st .
Katia Zatuliveter was detained on suspicion of spying for Russia in August last year. In Great Britain, she was working as an assistant to Liberal Democrat MP Mike Hancock, a member of the House of Commons' defense select committee. The latter has always been advocating the Russian girl's interests and calling all espionage accusations brought against her nothing but a fabrication.
"Well, I have no evidence, nobody has shown me any evidence to support the view that she is in any way a threat to the United Kingdom."
It appears that Mike Hancock is not that far from the truth. Otherwise, if the British secret services and police had any powerful evidence of her guilt, Miss Zatuliveter would have long ago been arrested or deported. So far, she has been released on bail under stringent restrictions making her free travel and employment next to impossible. She was only allowed to come into contact with her lawyers and closest relatives.
Under the British law, "strong reasons" for suspecting a person of espionage are good enough for the government to obtain a deportation order. In this context, requirements for evidence are lower than usual, which nevertheless did not work in the case of Katia Zatuliveter. It is a fair assumption to say that the case is a bit too thin and that UK justice has no compelling grounds to deport her.
It should be mentioned in conclusion that the Russian Embassy in London earlier sent an official request to the British Foreign Office and Home Office to clear up the situation around Katia Zatuliveter but had never received a comprehensible explanation. This fact makes you think that someone is seeking to overblow this case and thus worsen Russian-British relations that are undergoing a substantial thaw following Prime Minister David Cameron's recent visit to Moscow.