Ex-FBI informant Smirnov will remain in jail while he awaits trial, judge rules

Feb 26, 2024, 12:12 PM

Alexander Smirnov leaves court in Las Vegas on February 20, 2024. (CNN)...

Alexander Smirnov leaves court in Las Vegas on February 20, 2024. (CNN)


LOS ANGELES, California (CNN)Ex-FBI informant Alexander Smirnov will remain in jail while he awaits trial, a federal judge in California ruled Monday.

Smirnov was indicted over allegedly lying about President Joe Biden’s family and their alleged dealings in Ukraine. He pleaded not guilty on Monday.

Smirnov, a 43-year-old dual US-Israeli citizen, is accused of telling his handler that a Ukrainian energy company paid $5 million in bribes each to Biden and his son Hunter – an allegation that prosecutors say was a complete fabrication.

District Judge Otis Wright on Monday said that “there is nothing garden variety” about the criminal case involving Smirnov, who Wright says has a “habit or practice of making false statements.”

“I have not changed my mind,” Wright said. “The defendant will be remanded pending trial.”

“The records are fairly clear,” prosecutor Leo Wise said. Smirnov “made it all up.”

A magistrate judge in Las Vegas, where Smirnov lives, had ordered that Smirnov could leave jail and be subject to GPS monitoring. Smirnov was re-arrested days later, however, while meeting with his attorneys.

Wright wrote in a court order unsealed Friday that he had authorized Smirnov’s second arrest because he had learned that Smirnov’s attorneys may be trying to “facilitate his absconding from the United States.” In his order, Wright did not provide evidence or explain his thinking.

Prosecutors with special counsel David Weiss, who is overseeing the case, have argued that Smirnov’s supposed significant number of foreign contacts, and his access to millions of dollars, makes him a flight risk.

Smirnov’s attorneys have appealed his detention to a higher court, saying that Wright overstepped his authority by signing a new arrest warrant and ordering Smirnov be brought to Los Angeles without a hearing. The defense attorneys also lambasted the notion that they would help Smirnov flee, writing in a court filing Friday that “the suggestion that defense counsel is participating in an unlawful plot by advocating for release … is wrong.”

Wise revealed that Smirnov was arrested at his lawyers’ office because he has nine firearms in his house, including an “assault weapon,” and that law enforcement believed it would be safer to execute the arrest while he was not home.

Defense attorney David Chesnoff pushed back against prosecutors during the hearing Monday, saying that Smirnov’s foreign contacts were “at the direction of the government.” But when Wright questioned whether “all” of his contacts were at the government’s behest, Chesnoff appeared to walk back the statement.

This story has been updated with additional details.

KSL 5 TV Live

Courts & Legal


Lindsay Aerts

Utah State Board of Education clarifies districts are in charge of bathroom law implementation

The Utah State Board of Education is clarifying that it's up to school districts to decide how they implement a new bathroom law in schools that requires students to use the bathroom of their gender assigned at birth

15 hours ago

WASHINGTON - APRIL 14:  Activists line Wisconsin Avenue during a vigil outside the residence of Vic...

Matthew Barakat, Associated Press

Jury deliberating in Iraq Abu Ghraib prison abuse civil case; contractor casts blame on Army

A lawyer for a military contractor being sued by three survivors of the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq says the plaintiffs are suing the wrong people.

2 days ago

Texts shown during Chad Daybell's jury trial show he and Lori Daybell planned to be together in Haw...

Emily Ashcraft,

Texts show Chad and Lori Daybell’s relationship days after her husband’s death

Jurors for Chad Daybell's trial heard testimony on Friday about Lori Daybell's texts from an FBI agent, along with the end of testimony from Lori Daybell's friend, Melanie Gibb.

5 days ago

Crime scene tape. (Getty Images)...

Associated Press

Police to review security outside courthouse hosting Trump’s trial after man sets himself on fire

Police officials say they are reviewing whether to restrict access to a public park outside the courthouse where former President Donald Trump is on trial after a man set himself on fire there.

5 days ago

FILE - Rays of sunlight pierce through the clouds Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023, above homes burned by wi...

Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, Associated Press

Hawaii Supreme Court chides state’s legal moves on water after deadly Maui wildfire

The Hawaii Supreme Court says the state attorney general's office must pay attorney fees for using last year's Maui wildfire tragedy to file a petition in “bad faith” that blamed a state court judge for a lack of water for firefighting.

6 days ago

Chad Daybell stands next to his attorney, John Prior, during his murder trial in Boise on Wednesday...

Emily Ashcraft,

Chad and Lori Daybell used ‘castings’ to pray for spouses’ deaths, ex-friend testifies

An ex-friend of Lori Daybell testified Thursday that Chad and Lori Daybell prayed for evil spirits to leave their spouses, which if successful would mean the person would die.

6 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Ex-FBI informant Smirnov will remain in jail while he awaits trial, judge rules