Alleged CIA Officer Caught

Materials arranged chronologically.

Gordon, Michael R. "Russians Detain U.S. Diplomat, Calling Her a Spy." New York Times, 1 Dec. 1999. []

On 30 November 1999, Russia temporarily detained U.S. diplomat Cheri Leberknight, accusing her of spying. "The Russians ... asserted that she was a CIA officer who was working under cover as a second secretary at the American Embassy.... Russian officials said that Ms. Leberknight carried a map showing her meeting point and was equipped with a variety of devices to determine if she was under surveillance."

Hoffman, David. "American Accused of Spying: Russia Briefly Detains Diplomat." Washington Post, 1 Dec. 1999, A36. []

A spokesman of the Russian domestic intelligence agency said that Ms. Leberknight "was 'caught red-handed'.... Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said she 'will leave Moscow shortly,' according to the Interfax news agency.... In Washington, intelligence officials attributed the detention and expected departure of Leberknight to tensions between American and Russian intelligence agencies."

Macintyre, Ben, and Giles Whittell. "American 'Spy' Held In Russia." Times (London), 1 Dec. 1999. []

"In tit-for-tat espionage allegations, Russia said [on 30 November 1999] that it had caught an American spy, just a day after the United States announced that a US Navy codebreaker had been charged with passing secrets to Moscow."

Sands, David R. "Russians Accuse U.S. Envoy of Spying." Washington Times, 1 Dec. 1999.

Warren, Marcus. "Russia Holds Diplomat 'Caught Spying.'" Telegraph (London), 1 Dec. 1999. []

"Leberknight ... was detained in possession of a detailed map of the area, invisible ink 'tablets' and a device to monitor and hamper efforts to tape her conversations, a spokesman [for the FSB] said. Russia's domestic intelligence service also released photographs of Miss Leberknight ... taken during her detention, as well as the anti-surveillance equipment she allegedly had with her.... The fate and identity of Miss Leberknight's Russian contact remained a mystery and it was not clear whether he was in the area when she was detained in the Izmailovo district of Moscow."

Current Digest of the Post-Soviet Press, 29 Dec. 1999, 25-26, carries condensations of two articles from the Russian press:

1. Maksim Yusin, Izvestia, 1 Dec. 1999, says that "the spy scandal between Russia and the US hasn't come about by accident.... Foreign agents ... are kept under surveillance for months, sometimes years. And if the fact of their discovery is shouted from the rooftops, you can be sure it's because the political leadership gave orders to that effect."

2. Sergei Sokut, Nezavisimaya gazeta, 1 Dec. 1999, 1-2, notes that according to "sources," the arrest of Cheri Leberknight "was the result of a lengthy FSB [Russian Federal Security Service] counterintelligence operation."

Gertz, Bill, and Rowan Scarborough. "Inside the Ring: CIA Fooled." WorldNetDaily, 21 Jan. 2000. []

The writers quote "intelligence sources" for the view that the Russian with whom Cheri Leberknight was supposed to meet on 30 November 1999 "was a KGB 'provocation'."

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