Silver Lining

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Russia expels US embassy employee over espionage

Moqawama

In a throwback to the Coldwar era, Russia issued Tuesday orders for the expulsion of a US diplomat caught red-handed as he tried to recruit a Russian intelligence officer to work for the CIA.

The announcement came at an awkward time, just days after a visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry during which Washington and Moscow agreed to try to bring the warring sides in Syria together for an international peace conference.

The Federal Security Service said Ryan Fogle, a third secretary at the US Embassy in Moscow, had been detained overnight carrying “special technical equipment”, a disguise, a large sum of money and instructions for recruiting his target.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it summoned US Ambassador Michael McFaul over the case and a Russian television station published photographs which showed Fogle being detained, apparently wearing a blond wig.

“Such provocative actions in the spirit of the Cold War will by no means promote the strengthening of mutual trust,” the Foreign Ministry said.

A successor of the Soviet-era KGB, the FSB said Fogle worked for the Central Intelligence Agency and that he had been handed over to embassy officials at some point after his detention.

Diplomats accused of espionage are usually expelled or withdrawn.
“Recently American intelligence has made multiple attempts to recruit employees of Russian law enforcement organs and special agencies, which have been detected and monitored by Russian FSB counterintelligence,” the FSB said in a statement.

The embassy declined comment. Russia Today television published photographs on its website which it said showed Fogle being detained. In one photograph, a man lies face-down on the ground with his arms held behind his back by another man, and apparently wearing a blond wig.

Another image showed two wigs, apparently found on him, as well as three pairs of glasses, a torch, a mobile phone and a compass. Aldo displayed was a wad of 500-euro notes and an envelope addressed to a “dear friend”.

“This is an advance from someone who has been highly impressed by your professionalism, and who would highly value your cooperation in the future,” the letter said.

“We are willing to offer you $100,000 and discuss your experience, expertise and cooperation, and payment could be significantly larger, if you are willing to answer concrete questions,” it said, offering $1 million a year for long-term cooperation plus possible bonuses for useful information.

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