Five Bulgarians have appeared in court charged with spying and carrying out surveillance to assist the Russian state.
The three men and two women are accused of conspiring to gather information that would be useful to an enemy between August 2020 and February this year.
Orlin Roussev, 45, of Princes Road, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk; Bizer Dzhambazov, 41, of High Road, Harrow, north-west London; Katrin Ivanova, 31, of the same Harrow address; Ivan Stoyanov, 31, from Bannister Close, Greenford, west London; and Vanya Gaberova, 29, from Churchfield Road, Acton, north-west London, are 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 August 30 2020 and February 8 2023.
The five, who all have EU settled status, appeared via video link at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday morning and only spoke to confirm they could hear and see the court, to state their names and dates of birth.
Roussev, Dzhambazov and Ivanova were previously charged on February 11 2023 with possession of false identity documents with improper intention under section 4 of the Identity Documents Act 2010.
The court heard that all five defendants were arrested in February this year for offences contrary to the Official Secrets Act.
The five are alleged to be part of a “network” conducting surveillance on behalf of the Russian state.
The court was told that a large part took place abroad but coordination took place in the UK.
The defendants are accused of conspiring to collect information with “another person known as Jan Marsalek and others unknown”.
Mr Marsalek was the Austrian former chief operating officer of the company Wirecard, who became a wanted man in Germany after being suspected of having committed fraud.
The five defendants were remanded into custody until their next appearance at the Old Bailey on October 13 by Deputy Chief Magistrate Tan Ikram.