Hunter Biden informant re-arrested days after released by court: Special counsel

Alexander Smirnov was released from custody on Tuesday by a magistrate judge.

February 22, 2024, 6:06 PM

Alexander Smirnov, the indicted former FBI informant at the center of the Hunter Biden probe, was re-arrested Thursday, the special counsel's office said.

Smirnov was released from custody Tuesday by a Nevada magistrate judge less than a week after he was indicted on alleged false statements and obstruction charges. Smirnov's attorneys said in a statement that their client was in their office preparing his defense when he was taken into custody.

"We are pursuing lawful remedies to once again seek his release," attorneys David Z. Chesnoff and Richard E. Schonfeld said in a statement on Thursday.

U.S. Attorney David Weiss, leaves the interview before members of the House Judiciary Committee, Nov. 7, 2023, in Washington.
Jose Luis Magana/AP, FILE

The special counsel's office did not immediately provide more information about Smirnov's latest arrest.

Court records filed by Smirnov's attorneys showed the warrant for Thursday's arrest was signed by the California federal judge overseeing his original case.

The warrant requests Smirnov be brought directly to District Judge Otis Wright to answer the charges brought against him in special counsel David Weiss' original indictment filed last week charging him with making false statements to federal law enforcement and creating a false or fictitious record.

Smirnov's attorneys filed an emergency motion with the Nevada magistrate Judge Daniel Albregts who ordered his release on Tuesday to have the government explain itself or hold another detention hearing. Albregts has ordered the government to file a response to Smirnov's attorneys by Friday.

Later Thursday evening Judge Wright posted a sealed order on his docket scheduling a hearing on Weiss' request that Smirnov remain detained pending trial, however, there was no date or time listed on the docket entry, according to court information at the time.

Smirnov was arrested on Feb. 14 after arriving in the U.S. from overseas and indicted the next day.

Smirnov was a confidential source for the FBI and allegedly provided "false derogatory information about [President Biden] and [Hunter Biden] ... in 2020, after [Biden] became a presidential candidate," according to the charging documents. He allegedly told his FBI handler unverified claims that in 2020, Biden and his son had accepted $10 million in bribes from a Ukrainian oligarch.

Weiss noted in his indictment that in July 2023, investigators pursuing Hunter Biden launched "an investigation of allegations related to" the informant's prior claims -- shortly before a July 26, 2023, court hearing where their negotiated plea agreement with Hunter Biden fell apart.

In this Jan. 10, 2024, file photo, Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, departs a House Oversight Committee meeting at Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
Kent Nishimura/Getty Images, FILE

Republican lawmakers had frequently cited Smirnov's claims as the reason for impeachment inquiries into the president. House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer released a statement last week that Smirnov's charges did not undermine the GOP impeachment inquiry.

During a court hearing Wednesday, Weiss revealed in a court filing that after his arrest last week, Smirnov told the FBI "that officials with Russian intelligence were involved in passing a story" about Hunter Biden.

Weiss added that Smirnov claims that he has active contacts with "multiple foreign intelligence agencies" and that he had planned to leave the U.S. just two days after his arrival last week "for a months-long, multi-country foreign trip."

The special counsel asked the judge to keep the former informant in custody as he awaited trial the judge denied the request but under the condition that Smirnov surrendered his passport, wore an ankle monitor, and be restricted to traveling only to Nevada and to California for court purposes.

If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.

Related Topics