Judge Orders Indicted FBI Informant To Be Detained Until Trial
Alexander Smirnov, an FBI informant charged with lying to officials about an alleged multimillion-dollar bribery scheme involving President Joe Biden, his son Hunter and a Ukrainian energy company, in federal court with his attorneys Richard Schonfeld and David Chesnoff.
(Wes Rand/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

On Monday, a federal judge in California ordered the longtime FBI informant accused in an indictment of fabricating a multi-million dollar bribery scheme involving President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden to remain detained until his trial.

Alexander Smirnov, a 43-year-old dual U.S.-Israeli citizen who served as an FBI source for more than a decade, seeks to be let go after being arrested for a second time in the days that followed a different judge in Nevada allowing him to be released on a personal recognizance bond with GPS monitoring.

But, during a hearing in Los Angeles on Monday, District Judge Otis Wright II in the Central District of California sided with prosecutors who argued Smirnov posed a flight risk with his alleged links to Russian and other foreign intelligence operations, access to millions of dollars in “liquid” funds, and ability to get new Israeli passport.

“There is nothing garden-variety about this case,” Wright said, according to CBS News. “I find no comfort in assurances you may offer that you will not flee the jurisdiction.”

Special counsel David Weiss, who is leading the criminal inquiry into Hunter Biden, announced on February 15 that a federal grand jury in California returned an indictment charging Smirnov with false statement and obstruction crimes. He also said Smirnov had been arrested at the international airport in Las Vegas upon his arrival in the United States from overseas.

The charges stem from Smirnov allegedly coming forward during the 2020 election cycle with claims that executives with Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian gas company that employed Hunter Biden on its board for several years, paid $5 million in bribes to the Bidens when Joe Biden was vice president.

Smirnov has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which may result in 25 years in prison upon a conviction. His attorneys have argued in court filings that their client does not pose a flight risk, has ties to California and Las Vegas, and suffers from “significant” medical issues related to his eyes that require ongoing treatment.

Last week, U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel Albregts of Nevada permitted Smirnov’s release from custody with GPS monitoring while telling him to surrender his U.S. and Israeli passports. The judge also ordered Smirnov to stay in Clark County, Nevada, except to go to Los Angeles for court appearances and to prepare for his case, and barred trips to the airport.

Prosecutors asked Wright for a review of Albregts’ order of bail, which led to Wright issuing a second arrest on the suspicion of a plot to “facilitate” Smirnov’s departure from the United States. Smirnov’s lawyers said their client was taken back into custody under “bizarre circumstances” while at their law office for meetings with counsel.

Following Wright’s detention order on Monday, an attorney for Smirnov said they planned to “seek relief in the 9th Circuit to try to get him out so he can assist in his defense.”

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