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U.K. to charge 5 people suspected of spying for Russia with conspiracy to conduct espionage

U.K. prosecutors said Thursday that they had authorized charges of conspiracy to conduct espionage against three men and two women suspected of spying for Russia. The charges come after an investigation by the Counter Terrorism Command of London’s Metropolitan Police.

The five people are Bulgarian citizens between the ages of 29 and 45. In a statement, the head of Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service, Nick Price, named them as Orlin Roussev, Bizer Dzhambazov, Katrin Ivanova, Ivan Stoyanov and Vanya Gaberova, and said they “will be 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.”

Three of the defendants were charged earlier this year with possessing false identity documents, Price said.

Police carried out a search of a home occupied by three of the defendants and found allegedly false identification documents and passports for the U.K., the Czech Republic, Croatia, Greece, France, Italy, Spain and Slovenia, according to BBC News. The five defendants are also accused of organizing surveillance operations in Montenegro, the BBC reported.

Last year, Britain’s domestic intelligence chief, Director General of MI5 Ken McCallum, said over 400 suspected Russian spies had been expelled from Europe, striking a “significant strategic blow.” U.K. police have previously charged three Russians, who were accused of being GRU military intelligence officers, with the 2018 conspiracy to murder former spy Sergei Skripal using the nerve agent Novichok.

The five defendants are expected to appear in court in the U.K. on Tuesday.

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