United States

Russian Spies (2010)

See the FBI compilation, "Operation Ghost Stories: Inside the Russian Spy Case," 31 Oct. 2011 at: http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2011/october/russian_103111/russian_103111. Materials released by the FBI include "dozens of still images, surveillance video clips, and documents related to the investigation."

Materials presented in chronological order.

Shane, Scott, and Charlie Savage. "In Ordinary Lives, U.S. Sees the Work of Russian Agents." New York Times, 28 Jun. 2010. [http://www.nytimes.com]

On 28 June 2010, "federal prosecutors accused 11 people of being part of a Russian espionage ring, living under false names and deep cover in a patient scheme to penetrate what one coded message called American 'policy making circles.' An F.B.I. investigation that began at least seven years ago culminated with the arrest on [27 June 2010] of 10 people in Yonkers, Boston and northern Virginia.... The criminal complaints are packed with vivid details gathered in years of covert surveillance -- including monitoring phones and e-mail, placing secret microphones in the alleged Russian agents' homes, and numerous surreptitious searches."

See also, Jerry Markon, "FBI Arrests 10 Accused of Working as Russian Spies," Washington Post, 29 Jun. 2010, A1.

Barry, Ellen. "'Illegals' Spy Ring Famed in Lore of Russian Spying." New York Times, 29 Jun. 2010. [http://www.nytimes.com]

The "arrest of 11 people seems to offer a glimpse into a recent form of the [Russians' 'illegals'] program.... [I]f prosecutors are correct,... Russia's network of illegals has survived, and perhaps even grown, since the Soviet Union's collapse."

Montgomery, David. "Arrests of Alleged Spies Draws Attention to Long Obscure Field of Steganography." Washington Post, 29 Jun. 2010, C1. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

"[A]s the Justice Department's case unfolds against 11 alleged Russian clandestine operatives, we all are learning a fancy new word: steganography. It's the practice of hiding information in otherwise unremarkable objects or media.... According to the FBI's complaint against nine of the defendants, investigators recovered more than 100 text files that had been embedded in steganographic images and exchanged" between the alleged conspirators and their alleged controllers in Moscow.

Shane, Scott, and Benjamin Weiser. "Spying Suspects Seemed Short on Secrets." New York Times, 29 Jun. 2010. [http://www.nytimes.com]

"The suspected Russian spy ring rolled up by the F.B.I. this week had everything it needed for world-class espionage: excellent training, cutting-edge gadgetry, deep knowledge of American culture and meticulously constructed cover stories. The only things missing in more than a decade of operation were actual secrets to send home to Moscow.... As cold war veterans puzzled over the rationale for Russia's extraordinary effort to place agents in American society, both Russian and American officials signaled that the arrests would not affect the warming of relations between the countries."

On 29 June 2010, "the police in Cyprus arrested the man known as Christopher R. Metsos,...and American officials disclosed that they had moved to make arrests over the weekend because one of the people suspected of being Russian agents ... was planning to fly out of the United States on [27 June 2010], possibly for good."

Evan Perez and Alkman Granitsas, "U.S. Seeks to Keep Spy Suspects in Jail; Cypriot Police Hunt for Man Who Fled," Wall Street Journal, 1 Jul. 2010, report that "Metsos, the alleged moneyman in the spy ring, was arrested this week" in Cyprus, but "[a] judge granted him bail, with the agreement that he surrender his passport and report regularly to a police station. 'Within 24 hours of being bailed, Metsos simply disappeared,' prosecutors said."

Miller, Greg, and Philip P. Pan. "Alleged Spy Ring Seen as 'Throwback to the Cold War.'" Washington Post, 30 Jun. 2010, A7. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

"The roll-up of an alleged network of Russian spies has provided new evidence that the era of Cold War espionage never completely ended, exposing what U.S. intelligence experts described as Moscow's ongoing commitment to aggressive espionage operations, as well its fondness for spycraft techniques that haven't advanced since the KGB was dissolved."

Weiser, Benjamin, and Michael Wilson. "Suspect Placed Love for Russia Before His Son, Prosecutors Say." New York Times, 1 Jul. 2010. [http://www.nytimes.com]

In Federal District Court in Manhattan on 1 July 2010, the only one of four defendants allowed bail was Vicky Peláez, who "the government concedes lived under her own name.... Peláez is a veteran columnist for El Diario La Prensa, a newspaper in New York. Her husband, known as Juan José Lázaro Sr., postponed his request for bail." The second couple, known as Richard and Cynthia Murphy of Montclair, NJ, were denied bail. Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis "said he was not confident that they would not flee." Similar detention hearings in Boston and Alexandria, VA, were "postponed as lawyers asked for more time to prepare their arguments for bail."

CNN, "Alleged Russian Spy Confesses, Officials Say," 1 Jul. 2010, reports that the suspect known as Juan Lazaro "has admitted that he worked for Russia's intelligence service," according to court documents. Prosecutors say "[h]e allegedly told federal agents that he was not born in Uruguay, that 'Juan Lazaro' is not his real name, that his house in Yonkers, New York, had been 'paid for by the "Service"' and, although he loved his son, he would not violate his loyalty to the 'Service' even for his son."

Cratty, Carol. "3 Suspects in Russian Spy Ring Case Ordered Held." CNN, 2 Jul. 2010. [http://www.cnn.com]

According to a court document released at U.S. District Court in Alexandria, VA, on 2 July 2010, "the man known as Michael Zottoli is really a Russian named Mikhail Kutzik" and "the woman known as Patricia Mills is a Russian citizen named Natalia Pereverzeva. Prosecutors said that Zottoli and Mills ... made the admissions" soon after their arrest. Another suspect named Mikhail Semenko "appeared at a separate hearing.... Magistrate Judge Theresa Buchanan ordered that the three continue to be held in jail and cited the government's contention that they are dangers to the community and a flight risk."

Pincus, Walter. "FBI Spent Nearly Decade Pursuing Spy Suspects in Bid to Gain Counterintelligence." Washington Post, 3 Jul. 2010, A1. [http://www. washingtonpost.com]

According to court documents, "by mid-2006 investigators had already searched the homes of four of the couples" suspected of being agents of Russia's foreign intelligence service, "planted microphones in at least three of their residences, regularly reviewed their encrypted computer messages, and videotaped meetings where money and equipment were exchanged.... [T]he FBI has revealed enough information about the suspects to indicate that it may have gained valuable counterintelligence about Moscow's spy operations."

Narizhnaya, Khristina. "Russian Spy Claims Swap in Works for Spies in US." Associated Press, 7 Jul. 2010. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

"Russia and the United States are working out a spy swap involving Russians recently arrested in the United States and people convicted of spying in Russia," Dmitry Sutyagin, the brother of imprisoned nuclear researcher Igor Sutyagin said on 7 July 2010. Igor Sutyagin "is serving a 14-year prison sentence on charges of spying for the United States." See also, Andrew E. Kramer, Scott Shane, and Benjamin Weiser, "Steps Point to Possible Swap of Spy Suspects With Russia," New York Times, 7 Jul. 2010.

Baker, Peter, and Benjamin Weiser. "Russian Spy Suspects Plead Guilty as Part of a Swap." New York Times, 8 Jul. 2010. [http://www.nytimes.com]

The United States and Russia agreed on 8 July 2010 "to trade 10 Russian agents arrested last month for four men imprisoned in Russia for alleged contacts with Western intelligence agencies.... The 10 long-term sleeper agents pleaded guilty to conspiracy before a federal judge in Manhattan after revealing their true identities. All 10 were sentenced to time served and ... were to be taken by bus [on 8 July 2010] to a New York-area airport and flown out of the country....

"Within hours of the New York court hearing, the Kremlin announced that President Dmitri A. Medvedev had signed pardons for the four men Russia considered spies after each of them signed statements admitting guilt. The Kremlin identified them as Igor V. Sutyagin, an arms control researcher held for 11 years; Sergei Skripal, a colonel in Russia's military intelligence service sentenced in 2006 to 13 years for spying for Britain; Aleksandr Zaporozhsky, a former agent with Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service who has served seven years of an 18-year sentence; and Gennadi Vasilenko, a former K.G.B. major who was arrested in 1998 for contacts with a C.I.A. officer."

Sheridan, Mary Beth, and Jerry Markon. "U.S., Russian Planes Swap 14 Spies in Vienna." Washington Post, 9 Jul. 2010. [http://www. washingtonpost.com]

News services report that "[t]wo airplanes ... landed at Vienna's international airport early [on 9 July 2010].... After a brief time on the ground, the planes reportedly took off again ... apparently to deliver those on board to their respective destinations. The 10 accused spies who were expelled from the U.S. are headed to Russia,... while the four who had been jailed in Russia are being sent to the West." See also, Nicholas Kulish, Peter Baker, and Ellen Barry, "Prisoner Swap in Vienna Ends U.S.-Russia Espionage Case," New York Times, 9 July 2010.

Abbakumova, Natasha, and Andrew Higgins. "U.S. Weighed Spy Swap Well Before 'Sleeper' Agents Were Arrested." Washington Post, 9 Jul. 2010. [http://www. washingtonpost.com]

The four Russians released in the spy swap with Russia flew from Vienna to an RAF base in Oxfordshire, England, where two of them left the aircraft. A U.S. official identified the two as Sergei Skripal and Igor Sutyagin. Alexander Zaporozhsky and Gennady Vasilenko continued on to the United States. "A White House official said [on 9 July 2010] that the Obama administration began considering a possible spy swap as early as June 11, the date that President Obama was informed of the case.... The official ... said the United States provided the Russian government with the names of the four people it wanted released in exchange for the 10 agents."

See also, Karen DeYoung and Walter Pincus, "Four Spies Russia Freed Have Little in Common with Swap Counterparts," Washington Post, 9 Jul. 2010; and Scott Shane and Ellen Barry, "Intrigue and Ambiguity in Cases of 4 Russians Sent to West in Spy Swap," New York Times, 9 Jul. 2010.

Vicini, James. "U.S. Deports Another Person in Russian Spy Probe." Reuters, 13 Jul. 2010. [http://www.reuters.com]

U.S. government officials said on 13 July 2010 that a 23-year-old Russian, identified as Alexey Karetnikov, had been detained and deported. "U.S. officials declined to comment on whether Karetnikov was part of the [earlier] spy swap."

Schwirtz, Michael. "Agents Deported by U.S. Are Honored in Moscow." New York Times, 18 Oct. 2010. [http://www.nytimes.com]

On 18 October 2010, Russian President Dmitri A. Medvedev awarded government honors to at least some of the "Russian sleeper agents[] arrested in the United States this summer and deported to Russia as part of a prisoner exchange." Medvedev's spokeswoman "would not say which awards were given out or whether all 10 of those arrested this summer were among the recipients."

Lefebvre, Stéphane, and Holly Porteous. "The Russian 10 ... 11: An Inconsequential Adventure?" International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence 24, no. 3 (Fall 2011): 447-466.

This article provides a good survey of the case of the ten Russian illegals rounded up in June 2010 and traded back to Russia for four individuals being held in that country in July. One conclusion: "[G]iven the expense and long-term commitment of developing and placing these kinds of assets, one of the 'take aways' of this incident for Russia may be to revisit or reinstill operational training, operational security, and discipline. Little excuse is acceptable for operatives to have been so lax about basic operational security and so ignorant of the technologies they were using."

Lucas, Edward. Deception: The Untold Story of East-West Espionage Today. New York: Walker, 2012.

Goulden, Washington Times, 15 Aug. 2012 and Intelligencer 19.2 (Summer-Fall 2012), notes that the author "argues that Russia's dispatch of the sleeper agents 'is not a laughing matter.'" In Deception, Lucas "contends that 'the most serious' of the sleeper spies ... was Andrei Bezrukov, who lived in Cambridge, Mass., under the name of 'Donald Heathfield,' along with his wife, Yelena." To Peake, Studies 56.4 (Dec. 2012), "Deception is a well-wrttien journalistic account" that provides a "disquieting tale of post-Soviet-era espionage, security, corruption, and their historical antecedents." The book "is generally well documented from open sources, but not in all instances."

For West, IJI&C 25.4 (Winter 2012-2013), the author shows "a jaundiced viewpoint of the Western intelligence community's competence." Also, the book has "[n]umerous ... examples of minor inexactitudes." Nonetheless, the book's strength is its "stark assessment of how much of the Russian economy has been seized by faceless men who wield the ability to intimidate overly inquisitive journalists and orchestrate accidents for incautious rivals."

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