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Spy case aide 'has nothing to hide'

An MP has voiced support for his assistant, insisting the Russian has "nothing to hide" as she faces deportation for being a spy.

Liberal Democrat Mike Hancock challenged the security services to produce evidence against Katia Zatuliveter, who was arrested on Thursday morning and is currently being held at an immigration detention centre.

The 25-year-old, who came to the UK three years ago to study a masters degree at Bradford University, held a House of Commons pass and underwent security vetting before taking up her position as a full-time assistant two-and-a-half years ago. She worked previously for the MP as an intern.

She is appealing against the deportation order, which came after Home Secretary Theresa May was briefed by MI5 about the assistant's alleged connection to Russia's foreign intelligence service the SVR, The Sunday Times reported.

It emerged on Sunday that Ms Zatuliveter, who originates from Dagestan, was forced to flee her home as a child in the mid-1990s during the Chechnyan conflict, and an unnamed friend said she had been openly critical of Russia given her upbringing.

It is not known what prompted Ms Zatuliveter's arrest but a source told The Sunday Times she is no longer welcome in the UK. "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," the source said.

Mr Hancock is a member of the Defence Select Committee and also represents the Portsmouth South constituency where the Ministry of Defence has significant naval interests.

In the last two months he has tabled a number of written questions to the MoD. Among them, he has asked for the locations of berths for submarines, a request to publish a historical inventory of the country's nuclear arsenal and when the next design review of the Trident warhead will take place.

Mr Hancock says he tabled the written questions and his researcher would not have been privy to any information not in the public domain. He said he was "very interested" in defence issues and had asked similar questions throughout his career as an MP. There is no suggestion Mr Hancock has acted improperly.

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."


From Belfast Telegraph