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Five Bulgarian nationals have been remanded in custody after appearing in a London court to face charges of suspected spying for Russia.
The three men and two women appeared via video link at Westminster magistrates’ court on Tuesday. The five face a charge of conspiring to collect information for the Russian state over a period of three years.
Prosecutor Kathryn Selby outlined the charges to the court and alleged that all five defendants had carried out surveillance and information gathering on targets from several locations on behalf of the Russian state.
It was alleged that the targets were outside the UK and that spying was carried out on behalf of a man “known as Jan Marsalek”, who is not charged in the case.
Marsalek is the former chief operating officer of collapsed German firm Wirecard and is now believed to be in Russia.
The defendants are Orlin Roussev, 45, from Great Yarmouth, Norfolk; Bizer Dzhambazov, 41, from Harrow, north London; Katrin Ivanova, 31, also from Harrow, north London; Ivan Stoyanov, 31, from Greenford, west London and Vanya Gaberova, 29, from Churchway, north-west London.
Roussev’s home was said by Selby to be the alleged “operating hub for the offence of espionage”.
The five defendants are all jointly charged with conspiring to collect information intended to be directly or indirectly useful to an enemy for a purpose prejudicial to the safety and interest of the state between 30 August 2020 and 8 February 2023.
Roussev, Dzhambazov, and Ivanova were previously charged in February 2023 with possession of false identity documents with improper intention under section 4 of the Identity Documents Act 2010.
The defendants spoke only to confirm their names and date of birth.
Tanweer Ikram, deputy senior district judge at Westminster magistrates’ court, told the five defendants that their case would now be sent to London’s Old Bailey for a hearing on October 13.