Former FBI Informant Accused of Lying About Biden Denied Bid for Release

A former FBI informant who is accused of lying about the Biden family must remain in jail, according to a federal appeals court.

On Wednesday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals based in California ruled that Alexander Smirnov — who is accused of fabricating a bribery scheme that involved the family of President Joe Biden — has to remain in jail while he waits for his trial to begin.

The three-judge panel of the court rejected the arguments of Smirnov’s attorneys, who were urging for the lower court judge’s ruling to be overturned. In doing so, they said that the judge was right to believe Smirnov was a flight risk.

They added that there wasn’t any release condition that could be placed on Smirnov that would reasonably assure that he shows up to court for his trial.

In addition, the appeals court denied the request for a temporary release, which Smirnov’s lawyers were pressing for so he could have eye surgery for glaucoma.

In February, Smirnov was arrested and charged with lying to his FBI handler. He told him that executives from Burisma, an energy company in Ukraine, paid Biden and his son Hunter about $5 million each back in 2015.

That claim served as a central part of the impeachment inquiry that Republicans in the House undertook against the president.

Smirnov has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Otis Wright II, a U.S. District judge in Los Angeles, ruled that month that Smirnov had to remain in jail until his trial, which reversed the decision by another judge who had granted him his release as long as he wore a GPS monitoring device.

Only two days after the magistrate judge let him go, Smirnov was arrested again, this time at his lawyers’ Las Vegas office.

Following the three-judge panel’s ruling on Wednesday, Smirnov’s legal team vowed that they would continue to fight for their client’s release. One option they have is to ask the entire 9th Circuit to review the ruling, or they can appeal directly to the Supreme Court to do the same.

In trying to make their case, Smirnov’s attorneys have said their client doesn’t have a criminal record. They argued that keeping him behind bars while he waited for trial would make it challenging for him to aid his legal team in his defense.

They further said that “he should be free in order to effectively prepare his defense.”

In an emailed statement, two of his lawyers, Richard Schonfeld and David Chesnoff, said:

“Our client was out of custody and at our office working on his defense when he was rearrested and detained. He was not fleeing.”

Prosecutors, though, argued that he should remain behind bars because Smirnov told FBI handlers that he was in extensive contact with Russian intelligence officials.

He had served as an informant for the FBI for more than 10 years before he made the explosive allegations in June of 2020 about the Bidens.