Was US diplomat Ryan Fogle seeking info on Boston suspects?
Russia on Wednesday ordered an American diplomat, who was allegedly trying to recruit a Russian officer as spy, to leave the country.
Zee Media Bureau
Moscow: The American diplomat, who was on Wednesday ordered to leave Russia for allegedly trying to recruit a Russian officer as spy, might be seeking information on Boston Marathon blasts suspects, reports said.
According to Russian counterintelligence agency FSB, the US `CIA agent` Ryan Fogle was trying to recruit a Russian counterterrorism officer who was watching over the volatile Caucasus region in Russia.
It should be noted that the two Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tsarnaev brothers had their native roots at this place.
The diplomat, said to be a CIA agent, was held overnight by Russia`s Federal Security Service, FSB, and then released to US officials.
Fogle is said to have worked as third political secretary at the US embassy in Moscow. He is alleged to have been arrested with cash, technical devices and instructions which he had written for the Russian agent he was reportedly trying to recruit.
The Russian foreign ministry said that the person has been declared "persona non grata" for "provocative actions in the spirit of the Cold War".
The State Department would only confirm that Fogle worked as an embassy employee, but wouldn`t give any details about his employment record or responsibilities in Russia. Some officials also referred inquiries to the CIA, which declined comment.
Fogle was the first American diplomat to be publicly accused of spying in Russia in about a decade.
The last spy row between United States and Russia involved Anna Chapman and 10 other Russian spies who were arrested in America in 2010.
The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul to appear Wednesday in connection with the case. McFaul said he would not comment on the spying allegation.
Russian officials expressed indignation the U.S. would carry out an espionage operation at a time when the two countries have been working to improve counterterrorism cooperation. "Such provocative actions in the spirit of the Cold War do nothing to strengthen mutual trust," the Foreign Ministry said.
Russia`s Caucasus region includes the provinces of Chechnya and Dagestan. The suspects in the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings — Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his elder brother, Tamerlan, who was killed in a manhunt — are ethnic Chechens. Tamerlan spent six months last year in Dagestan, now the center of an Islamic insurgency.
U.S. investigators have been working with the Russians to try to determine whether Tamerlan Tsarnaev had established any contacts with militants in Dagestan.
Despite the end of the Cold War, Russia and the United States still maintain active espionage operations against each other. Last year, several Russians were convicted in separate cases of spying for the US and sentenced to lengthy prison sentences.
Russian state TV showed pictures of a man said to be Fogle, wearing a baseball cap and a blond wig, lying face down on the ground. The man, without the wig, was also shown sitting at a desk in the offices of the FSB, the Federal Security Service.
Two wigs, a compass, a map of Moscow, a pocket knife, three pairs of sunglasses and envelopes of 500 euro notes (each bill worth $649) were among the items the FSB displayed on a table.
The FSB also produced a typewritten letter that it described as instructions to the Russian agent who was the target of Fogle`s alleged recruitment effort. The letter, in Russian and addressed "Dear friend," offers $100,000 to "discuss your experience, expertise and cooperation" and up to $1 million a year for long-term cooperation. The letter also includes instructions for opening a Gmail account to be used for communication and an address to write. It is signed "Your friends."
With Agency Inputs