Russia kicks out diplomat accused of being a U.S. spy
Russian authorities detained an American diplomat accused of attempting to recruit a Russian intelligence officer into the CIA, the Federal Security Service said Tuesday.
The Washington Post
MOSCOW — An American diplomat accused by Russia of spying for the CIA was ordered to leave the country Tuesday after a highly publicized arrest that seemed designed to embarrass the United States and its premier intelligence service.
The expulsion of Ryan Fogle was announced by the Russian Foreign Ministry, and footage on state-run television showed him wearing a blond-streaked wig and a baseball cap as he was held facedown and handcuffed.
The Soviet-style episode came just days after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited the Russian capital in an attempt to soothe diplomatic tensions over the civil war in Syria and the investigation of the Boston Marathon bombing.
A statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry, which appeared intended to put the United States on the defensive, said, “While our two presidents have reaffirmed their willingness to expand bilateral cooperation, including between intelligence agencies in the fight against terrorism, such provocative Cold War-style actions do not contribute to building mutual trust.”
Fogle, who is listed as a low-level diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, was accused of attempting to recruit a Russian official to work as a CIA spy. His Monday night arrest was captured on videotape and made public Tuesday afternoon just as the U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, was beginning a previously announced question-and-answer session on the social-media site Twitter. McFaul said during the exchange that he would not comment on the case.
Russia’s domestic security service said Fogle was caught with a stack of cash. Images showed a collection of amateurish spy gear, including a compass, sunglasses and a form letter promising million-dollar payments and providing tips on setting up an anonymous email account.
U.S. officials did not dispute that Fogle was a CIA employee, and they sought to play down the potential for any diplomatic fallout.
A CIA spokesman declined to comment. A State Department spokesman, Patrick Ventrell, said only that “an American staff member at the embassy” had been briefly detained.
He was turned over Tuesday to the U.S. Embassy, where he is listed as the third secretary in the political section. CIA officers routinely use State Department positions as diplomatic cover for espionage.
Russia’s government-financed RT television channel reported that Fogle’s alleged target was a Russian counterterrorism official working in the North Caucasus region — an allegation that suggests a tie to the Boston bombing.
The investigation of the April 15 attack has focused on whether one of the suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, had become radicalized during a six-month trip to Russia last year. Tsarnaev, who was killed in a shootout with police, and his brother, Dzhokhar, who is in custody, are ethnic Chechens.
Russia’s Federal Security Service, known as the FSB, had raised concerns about Tamerlan Tsarnaev with the FBI and CIA in 2011. But U.S. officials have said that the Russians failed to respond to requests for additional information. The FBI closed its inquiry a year before the marathon attacks.
Kerry praised U.S.-Russia cooperation on the Boston investigation before meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on May 7. The FBI and FSB also have pledged to work together ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Public records indicate that Fogle is a native of Missouri and a graduate of Colgate University in New York.