FBI informant arrested again as prosecutors warn he’ll try to flee US

A former FBI informant — who was arrested last week in Las Vegas — was arrested again on the same charges in California, after being accused of making false statements against President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

Alexander Smirnov was arrested on 22 February — the second time this month — on the same charges and based on the initial indictment following an arrest warrant issued from California, his lawyers said in a Thursday filing. A California district judge ordered Smirnov to appear in court at 9am on Monday 26 February.

His attorneys are now asking the court for an immediate release and say he has not set foot in the state of California since being released from custody on 20 February, days after his first arrest on 14 February. A magistrate judge in Nevada granted Mr Smirnov’srelease on various conditions.

“He has fully remained fully compliant with his conditions of release since his court-ordered release,” the filing states. The former FBI informant was arrested while having a meeting with his attorney at his law office.

“The fact that the Defendant was attending a legal consultation meeting at his attorneys’ office contradicts the notion that he is a risk of flight,” his lawyer wrote.

However, a Thursday order from the Central District Court of California wrote that Smirnov’s attorney “sought an emergency hearing in the District of Nevada to arrange the release of Defendant Smirnov, likely to facilitate his absconding from the United States.”

On Friday, in a statement attorneys for Smirnov did not remark on this assertion, but said: “We are advocating for Mr. Smirnov's release in both the federal district court and in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. We will have no comment on the case and look forward to appearing in the appropriate federal court.”

His lawyers wrote that no order setting a date and time for Mr Smirnov’s appearance and detention hearing in California had been set at the time of the filing on Thursday.

The indictment, returned by a federal grand jury, states Mr Smirnov allegedly “provided false derogatory information” to agents about President Biden and Hunter Biden.

He was charged with two counts: providing a false statement to a government agent and creating a falsification of records in a federal investigation.

Prosecutors allege that Mr Smirnov made the false allegations to agents in June 2020, when he allegedly told them about two meetings with an executive from Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company which employed Hunter Biden as an attorney and later as a member of its corporate board.

Mr Smirnov allegedly told agents that “executives associated with Burisma, including Burisma Official 1, admitted to him that they hired [Hunter Biden] to ‘protect us, through his dad, from all kinds of problems”.

In a statement given toThe Independent, attorneys for Mr Smirnov said that their client “was rearrested on an arrest warrant issued from the same Court where he was planning on voluntarily appearing when required.”

“He had previously been released by a federal Magistrate Judge after a full and complete hearing where both sides were heard. He was inside ourlaw office at the time of his arrest, preparing his defense. We arepursuing lawful remedies to once again seek his release,” the statement said.