UK passport may have been used by alleged spy ring
British and Irish officials were checking on Tuesday whether two alleged members of a Russian spy ring used bogus passports from their countries as cover for espionage.
Documents filed at the US District Court for the southern district of New York accuse Richard Murphy and Tracey Lee Ann Foley of being deep-cover Russian agents charged with infiltrating US policymaking circles while posing as ordinary citizens. Murphy and Foley are alleged to have used a fake Irish and British passport respectively.
"We will be investigating this fully with the US," Britain's Foreign Office said in a terse statement. "It would be wrong to comment further at this stage."
Ireland's foreign ministry said it was seeking confirmation from the US embassy in Dublin.
The FBI announced on Monday the arrests of 10 alleged deep-cover Russian agents after tracking the suspects for years. They are accused of attempting to infiltrate US policymaking circles while posing as ordinary citizens.
An 11th person allegedly also involved in the Russian spy ring was arrested Tuesday in Cyprus.
In Britain, the US spy case has stirred memories of the country's own illegal Soviet spy - Melita Norwood, a civil servant who spent about 40 years passing atomic research and other secrets to Moscow. Authorities ruled against prosecuting the elderly grandmother when she was exposed in 1992. Norwood died in 2005 at the age of 93.
It is also reminiscent of the more recent scandal over the use of fake Irish and British passports in the assassination of a top Hamas militant in Dubai earlier this year.
Dubai police said Israeli agents posing mainly as European tourists were responsible for the slaying of Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, who was found dead Jan. 20 in his hotel room. Dubai police say assassins using 32 fake passports _ including eight depicting fictional Irish citizens _ participated in the hit squad. Both the UK and Ireland expelled an Israeli diplomat each as a result, saying it was clear the Jewish state forged their passports as part of the assassination plot.
Israel has refused to confirm or deny its agents' involvement in the killing.
The Covid-19 pandemic could get worse in the U.S. in the weeks ahead, officials said Wednesday, and more people could be advised to again wear masks indoors. Increasing numbers of Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations are putting more of the country under guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that call for masking and other infection precautions.
A 21-year-old Russian soldier, Vadim Shishimarin, has pleaded guilty to killing an unarmed civilian as Ukraine has started its first war crimes trial since the beginning of Moscow's invasion. Ukrainian prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova previously said her office was readying war crimes cases against 41 Russian soldiers for offences that included bombing civilian infrastructure, killing civilians, rape and looting, news agency AP.
EU chief Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday proposed extra aid to Ukraine of up to nine billion euros ($9.5 billion) this year to help Kyiv cope with the ravages of war. In a broadcast statement, von der Leyen also said it was time to think about rebuilding Ukraine whenever the war ends, adding the EU has "a strategic interest in leading this reconstruction effort".
The Kremlin on Wednesday accused Kyiv authorities of not wanting to continue talks to end hostilities that started after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into pro-Western Ukraine. "Talks are indeed not moving forward and we note the complete lack of will of Ukrainian negotiators to continue this process," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
North Korea said Wednesday more than a million people have already recovered from suspected COVID-19 just a week after disclosing an outbreak it appears to be trying to manage in isolation as global experts express deep concern about the public health threat. The country's anti-virus headquarters announced 232,880 new cases of fever and another six deaths in state media Wednesday. It said at least 691,170 remain in quarantine.