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Alexander Smirnov leaves the courthouse with his girlfriend and his lawyer

Photo: Bizuayehu Tesfaye/dpa

According to investigators, the FBI informant accused of passing on false information about the US President's son Hunter Biden was provided with material for his stories by employees of the Russian secret service. The 43-year-old Alexander Smirnov admitted this during interrogation, said special investigator David Weiss and other prosecutors in a document filed on Tuesday in a federal court in the US state of Nevada.

Smirnov - who has both US and Israeli citizenship - was arrested at Las Vegas airport last week after returning from a trip abroad. The indictment against him states that he told lies to the US Federal Police FBI about alleged bribes that Hunter Biden and his father are said to have received from a Ukrainian gas company.

The indictment of the former FBI informant is a major setback for opposition Republicans in their efforts to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Biden on corruption charges. Smirnov's statements have so far played a central role in these efforts.

The former FBI informant faces 25 years in prison

The effects of the false information he provided to the FBI about the Bidens in 2020 “continue to be felt today,” says the investigators’ document, referring to the Republicans’ efforts.

Smirnov faces up to 25 years in prison. He had claimed that, according to officials at the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, Joe and Hunter Biden each received $5 million in bribes to protect the company from prosecution. Hunter Biden formerly served on Burisma's board of directors.

The investigators have now also announced that Smirnov continues to spread made-up stories about Hunter Biden and has been supplied by the Russian secret service: "The false information he is spreading is not limited to 2020." The informant met with Russian secret service employees in November and “actively spreads new lies.” Investigators warn that this false information could also have an impact on the upcoming US elections.

Republicans accuse Hunter Biden of abusing his father's position as a former deputy to President Barack Obama for business in Ukraine and China. Conservatives are ultimately targeting President Biden with their attacks. They accuse him of being involved in his son's controversial foreign business dealings and of having benefited financially from them.

Biden's Democrats accuse the Republicans of a political maneuver to damage the incumbent before the presidential election in November - and to take revenge for the two impeachment proceedings against former President Donald Trump. The election will likely see another duel between Biden and Trump.

Hunter Biden is a favorite Republican target. The former lawyer, lobbyist and businessman repeatedly makes headlines with legal problems. He was charged in December with having evaded taxes over several years.

Hunter Biden was previously charged with illegal weapons possession in September. He is accused of briefly possessing a revolver in 2018, even though he was prohibited from doing so as a drug user. The 54-year-old son of the president says he has now got his previous drug and alcohol problems under control.