Judge Denies Bail to Ex-FBI Informant Alexander Smirnov, Who’s Accused of Lying About Biden Family

A federal judge ruled Monday that Alexander Smirnov must remain in custody ahead of a trial where the ex-informant is accused of lying to the FBI about Joe and Hunter Biden taking bribes.

Smirnov, 43, was arrested earlier this month on allegations he made up a story and passed it along to federal authorities about President Joe Biden and his son accepting bribes from businessmen in Ukraine—apparent falsehoods that became the basis of a Republican-led impeachment probe into the president.

Smirnov pleaded not guilty to the charges on Monday, and U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II ruled that he must stay in jail due to fears he’d otherwise try to flee the country—perhaps to Russia, where he told federal agents has ties to the country’s intelligence service, or to Israel, where he has dual citizenship with the U.S.

“I find no comfort in assurances you may offer that you will not flee the jurisdiction,” Wright reportedly said Monday.

Wright also cited Smirnov’s alleged access to millions of dollars as additional reason he should be considered a flight risk, The Washington Post reported.

If convicted, federal guidelines say Smirnov could spend between 15 to 21 months in prison.

Videos showed Monday that Smirnov covered his face with a hoodie, beanie, and sunglasses as he walked in and out of a federal courthouse in Los Angeles. Photographers are not permitted to take photos inside the courtroom.

Smirnov was arrested in the Las Vegas airport on Feb. 14 and was released without bond shortly after. Wright stepped in to change that arrangement, however, ordering authorities to rearrest Smirnov on Thursday.

Much remains unknown about Smirnov, who reportedly speaks Russian and English, but with a heavy accent. Records obtained by the Los Angeles Times showed he’s bounced around the Los Angeles suburbs for more than a decade, with ex-neighbors and a former landlord saying he and his wife lived a quiet life.

“They were very, very secretive,” a former landlord told the paper. “They packed really, really quick and left. It was weird.”

Smirnov is accused of making false allegations about the Bidens in 2020, when he alleged that Biden and his son took $5 million bribes apiece in exchange for them to use their political sway to protect the Ukrainian energy company Burisma from prosecution there.

That allegation was quickly used by Republicans as the reason Biden should be booted from office—though the many experts cautioned at the time to treat the unverified claims with at least some skepticism.

The charging of Smirnov has called into question his reliability as an informant going back to 2010, though authorities have not revealed what other information he previously provided the feds.

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