Washington/Moscow: An incident reminiscent
of the Cold War era hostilities, the US has arrested 10 people
on charges of spying for Russia, angering Moscow to issue a
stern warning that it would be a blow to the Obama-Medvedev
`burger` diplomacy and the `reset` in bilateral ties.
The arrests were made on Sunday and yesterday in
Boston, New York, New Jersey and Virginia, the Department of
Justice announced today alleging that the group dubbed the
"Illegals" was tasked by the Russian intelligence agency SVR
to enter the US, assume false identities and carry out
The defendants, eight of whom are married couples,
held jobs in fields such as finance and media. One of the
defendants remains at large. The FBI said the arrests are a
result of multi-year investigations.
"These Russian secret agents work to hide all
connections between themselves and Russia, even as they act at
the directions and under the control of SVR, these secrets
agents are typically called "illegals", the FBI said in its
complaint filed before a US court yesterday.
Russia fumes at arrest of 10 "spies" in the US
Reacting sharply to the arrest, Russia warned that it
would be a blow to the recent `burger` diplomacy between
Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev and the `reset` in
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow
wanted an explanation from the United States over the arrest
of the Russian "spies".
"They have not explained to us what is going on.
I hope they will," Lavrov told journalists following talks
with his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman in Jerusalem,
adding "the only thing I can say is that the timing was chosen
with a particular care."
In documents submitted to the court, the FBI said the
"Illegals" agents of the SVR generally receive extensive
training before coming to the US.
This training has typically focused on, among other
things, including the use of brush-passes, short-wave radio
operation and invisible writing; the use of codes and ciphers,
including the use of encrypted Morse code messages.
They were also adept in the "creation and use of a
cover profession; counter-surveillance measures, concealment
and destruction of equipment, and materials used in connection
with their work as agents and avoidance of detection during
their work as agents," the FBI alleged.
Each of those charge sheeted - eleven in all including
10 arrested - faces up to five years in prison. Nine of them
have also been charge sheeted for money laundering, which
carries a maximum penalty of 20 years of imprisonment.