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Russian national suspected as sleeper agent in British parliament

A Russian woman working in the British parliament faces deportation after she was detained on suspicion of working as a Russian spy, reports say. Katia Zatuliveter, as well as her boss, both insist she is innocent.

The British houses of parliament

The woman was working as a researcher in the parliament

A young Russian woman employed as an assistant to a British lawmaker faces deportation after being detained as a suspected Russian sleeper agent, a newspaper claims.

British Interior Minister Theresa May

British Interior Minister Theresa May is thought to have approved the action

Katia Zatuliveter was taken into custody by the British domestic intelligence agency MI5, who claim she has been working for Russian intelligence, The Sunday Times newspaper reported over the weekend.

The 25-year-old had been working for lawmaker Mike Hancock, a Liberal Democrat representative, who is a member of a parliamentary defense committee.

Hancock insists that Zatuliveter, who has been living in the United Kingdom for nearly three years, was not employed on any sensitive project.

"She is determined to fight her corner and she genuinely believes, and I back her 100 percent, that she has nothing to hide and has done nothing wrong," said Hancock in an interview on British news broadcaster Sky News.

Russian sleeper agents, pictured in court,

Suspected Russian sleeper agents, pictured here in court, were apprehended in the US

Hancock said that Zatuliveter had been vetted according to the strict security procedures to work in parliament.

Arrest approved at top level

However, the Sunday Times said the woman's removal had been approved by Interior Minister Theresa May after a briefing by MI5 that she was thought to be working for Russia's foreign intelligence service the SVR.

The paper said the Russian's presence was "not considered to be conducive to national security."

There has so far been no response from Britain's interior ministry the Home Office, which says it does not comment on individual cases.

The latest incident follows the expulsion of 10 Russian sleeper agents from the United States in July. British relations with Russia are only slowly recovering after the murder of dissident Russian spy Aleyander Litvinenko in London in 2006.

Author: Richard Connor (AFP, Reuters)
Editor: Rob Turner

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