After Russia US spy swap 2010, Russia declares US diplomat persona non grata

    Courtesy: RIA Novosti

    Merely three years after famous or rather infamous Russia US spy swap of 2010, Russia declares US diplomat persona non grata days ahead of Obama-Putin meet

    ( Days before President Barack Obama and President Vladmir Putin are supposed to meet in Ireland, Russia on Tuesday declared persona non grata America diplomat, whom it detained on the intervening night of Monday-Tuesday from the US Embassy in Moscow on the charge of being undercover Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer attempting to recruit a member of the Russian intelligence services.

    Russia’s Federal Security Service, the FSB, the successor of Soviet era KGB said in a statement that Third Secretary in the political section at the US Embassy, Ryan C Fogle, was detained and subsequently released to US diplomats.

    Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the United States Ambassador Michael A McFaul to appear on Wednesday to respond to the accusation.

    Courtesy: RIA Novosti

    The Foreign Ministry said such provocative actions done in the spirit of the “Cold War” would in no way help to strengthen mutual trust and sought his immediate departure.

    The FSB said Fogle was found with special technical equipment, a recruitment note written to a Russian citizen, a large sum of money and products designed to change a person’s appearance.

    The statement said “The US intelligence community recently has made repeated attempts to recruit employees of Russia’s law-enforcement bodies and special agencies, which have been recorded and monitored by [Russia’s] counterespionage forces.”

    Its US counterpart the CIA declined to comment.

    Ironically, the detention comes less than a week after the White House and the Kremlin attempted to patch up a damaged relationship with a high-level meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    In recent days, President Obama and Putin have increased cooperation on anti-terrorism efforts in response to the bombing at the Boston Marathon.

    In 2010, the US authorities arrested 10 people said to be a part of a Russian spy ring and had been living in the United States for a decade, posing as Americans.

    The so-called “sleeper” agents had not sent home any classified secrets and were not charged with espionage. Instead, they were sent back to Russia as part of a swap in which the Kremlin released four prisoners who had been jailed for spying, three of whom were serving long sentences.

    Since being expelled back to Russia, at least one member of the suburban spy ring, Anna Chapman, has become a celebrity here, with her own TV show.

    Then the Obama administration quickly made clear that it did not envision the episode causing undue strains with Russia.

    But diplomatic sources said it seemed likely that this latest espionage arrest would not get in the way of larger bilateral priorities, including plans for the two Presidents to meet in Ireland later this month and in Russia later this year.

    In May 2011, Russia expelled Israeli military attaché in Moscow, Vadim Leiderman, an Air Force Colonel, on suspicion of spying. He was born in the then Soviet Union before migrating to Israel. He was arrested while sitting in a cafe with a Russian and was suspected of managing several local residents as informers.

    In October 2000 a Colonel in the Russian spy service, Sergei Tretyakov, defected to the United States with his wife and daughter. At the time, he held the title of First Secretary of the Russian mission in New York and senior aide to the then Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Sergey V. Lavrov, who is now country’s Foreign Minister.

    The alleged note recovered from Fogle by FSB on Tuesday was written in Russian language and was addressed “Dear Friend” and signed “Your Friends.”

    According to the FSB the alleged spy offered the would-be recruit €100,000 and provided a picture of a stack of €500 bills it said were taken from him.

    The note reportedly promised $100,000 a year to discuss the would-be recruit’s experience and “much more” if the recruit proved willing to answer specific questions of interest.