Five Bulgarian nationals have appeared in a London court accused of spying for Russia in collaboration with the former executive of the collapsed German company Wirecard, who is wanted by Interpol.
Orlin Roussev, 45, Bizer Dzhambazov, 41, Katrin Ivanova, 31, Ivan Stoyanov, 31, and Vanya Gaberova, 29, have been 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.
Westminster magistrates court heard that all five defendants were arrested in February this year for criminal offences under the Official Secrets Act, including conspiracy to conduct espionage.
It is alleged they were part of an organised network of Bulgarian nationals with the purpose of assisting the Russian state in regards to the potential abduction of some targets.
The defendants are also accused of conspiring to collect information with “another person known as Jan Marsalek and others unknown”.
Marsalek was the chief operating officer of payment processor and financial services provider Wirecard, which filed for bankruptcy in June 2020. Interpol has issued a warrant for his arrest.
The prosecution also alleged that the home of Roussev in Great Yarmouth was used as an operating hub for espionage, and that all five defendants were living in the UK under EU settled status.
The defendants appeared in court from custody via video link and spoke only to confirm their names, date of births and addresses.
They have been remanded into custody before a hearing at the Old Bailey on 13 October.
This month it was reported that Roussev, Dzhambazov and Ivanova had lived in the UK for several years in a series of suburban properties and undertook a variety of jobs. (Guardian)