Ex-FBI informant charged with false intel about the Bidens ordered detained

Ex-FBI informant charged with false intel about the Bidens ordered detained © Provided by NBC News

Former FBI informant Alexander Smirnov, who was charged with providing false claims about Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden during the 2020 presidential campaign to the bureau, was ordered detained until trial at a hearing in Los Angeles on Monday.

U.S. District Judge Otis Wright, a federal judge in California, last week ordered the re-arrest of Smirnov, 43, after federal prosecutors told the judge that Smirnov was “likely” planning to leave the United States. The order came after Smirnov was arrested by federal authorities at the airport in Las Vegas this month upon his arrival on an international flight. A federal magistrate judge in Nevada last week ordered Smirnov to be released with a GPS monitor, prompting the judge in California, where the case against Smirnov was brought, to issue the order.

“It has come to this Court’s attention that counsel for defendant has 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,” Wright wrote in an order unsealed Friday. The judge wrote, bolding his order for emphasis, that he “issued an arrest warrant specifying that upon his arrest Defendant should be brought promptly to this Court” for a hearing in his Los Angeles courtroom Monday.

At the hearing, Otis ordered that Smirnov be held until trial.

Prosecutors said in a filing last week that Smirnov, who had worked as a confidential source for the FBI since 2010, said that some information he shared about the Bidens came from “officials associated with Russian intelligence.” They added that Smirnov “is actively peddling new lies that could impact U.S. elections after meeting with Russian intelligence officials in November.”

Prosecutors with special counsel David Weiss’ office said Smirnov “provided false derogatory information to the FBI” about the Bidens, including bogus claims that officials at the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, where Hunter Biden had worked, had paid them $5 million each and it would take 10 years for investigators to locate the alleged payments.

House Republicans made Smirnov’s allegations against the Bidens a central part of their impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden. Although GOP leaders had repeatedly pointed to Smirnov’s unsubstantiated claims, since his indictment they have been downplaying the importance of his false allegations to their probe.

Weiss’ office did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment on Monday’s hearing.

Smirnov’s lawyers, David Z. Chesnoff and Richard A. Schonfeld, declined to comment to NBC News about the hearing. They previously said they are “advocating for Mr. Smirnov’s release in both the federal [district] court and in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.”

Source:  NBCNews.com