An MP says he is backing his researcher 100%, adding she had “nothing to hide” after she was arrested on suspicion of being a Russian spy.
Liberal Democrat Mike Hancock challenged the security services to produce evidence against Katia Zatuliveter, 25, who faces deportation after being arrested on Thursday morning.
She came to the UK three years ago to study for a masters degree at Bradford University before starting work as a researcher in Mr Hancock’s parliamentary office in the House of Commons.
He is a member of the Defence Select Committee but denied she would have been privy to any secret information that was not available to the public.
Describing Ms Zatuliveter as “bright and intelligent”, Mr Hancock told Sky News: “I have no reason to believe she did any thing but act honourably during the time she was working for me.
“She is determined to fight her corner and she genuinely believes, and I back her 100%, that she has nothing to hide and has done nothing wrong. If she has, the (security) services are right. But they need to prove their point now.”
The Sunday Times reports that Home Secretary Theresa May had approved the removal of Ms Zatuliveter after being briefed by MI5 about her alleged connection to Russia’s foreign intelligence service the SVR.
She held a House of Commons pass and underwent security vetting before taking up her position and is currently being held at an immigration detention centre as she puts together an appeal against deportation.
A source told The Sunday Times: “Her presence here is not considered to be conducive to national security. There was unhappiness about what she could have access to. The intention is to show her the door.”
If confirmed, this would be the first case since the Cold War of a Russian agent being removed from the Houses of Parliament.