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Judge suggests indicted FBI informant was planning to flee

A district judge in California suggested that an attorney for the former FBI informant accused of lying about President Biden accepting bribes was making plans to help his client flee ahead of trial.

Judge Otis Wright, in a brief order unsealed on Friday, said attorneys for the confidential source, Alexander Smirnov, were allegedly plotting his departure from the U.S., just a day after he was arrested for the second time.

“It has come to this Court’s attention that counsel for the 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 the order.

The judge did not provide evidence for his assertion.

Smirnov was originally arrested in Las Vegas last week for making false statements to the FBI. The case risks unwinding the House GOP’s impeachment investigation into Biden.

Amid their probe, Republicans can often pointed to conversations Smirnov had with the FBI relaying that the head of Ukrainian energy company Burisma said he paid Biden and his son Hunter Biden at least $5 million.

Smirnov’s lawyers, however, disputed Wrights’ allegations that he was a flight risk.

In a late Friday filing, the attorneys said they were merely working in their office with Smirnov on his defense case.

“Pointedly, when he was arrested for a second time, Mr. Smirnov was already free and working on his defense in his lawyers’ office,” Smirnov’s lawyers wrote.

“This is hardly what would be expected of a person preparing to jump bail and flee the country; to the contrary, had he not been rearrested, Mr. Smirnov would have voluntarily traveled to Los Angeles with his lawyers to attend the upcoming hearing,” they added.

The attorneys have appealed his detention, stating he had to have a hearing in Nevada before being transferred to California. A hearing has already been scheduled for Feb. 26 in Los Angeles, per The Associated Press.

The Hill has reached out to Smirnov’s attorneys for comment.

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