Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Russia Wants Access to Alleged Spy Ring Suspects

Via FoxNews -

Russia's foreign minister demanded Tuesday that it be allowed access to suspected spies arrested in the United States.

Those arrested have committed no kind of activity directed against U.S. interests, the foreign ministry said.

Russia urged the United States to take into account the "positive character" of current Russian-U.S. ties when dealing with the case

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin also spoke out Tuesday, expressing hope that the spy scandal would not damage improving relations between Russia and the United States, news agencies reported.


In a statement on the scandal the ministry said, "We are talking about Russian citizens who came to the United States at different times."

"They have not committed any kind of actions directed against the interests of the United States," it added.

It called on the U.S. authorities to guarantee consular access from Russian officials for the suspects.

The Foreign Ministry would not say specifically how many of the 11 alleged deep-cover agents are Russian.


The FBI announced the arrests of 10 suspects Monday, and an 11th person allegedly involved in the Russian spy ring was arrested Tuesday in Cyprus. Court papers said the operation goes back as far as the 1990s and many of the suspects were tracked for years.

Semenko and Chapman, however, were listed in a separate complaint and said to use their real names. Most of the other suspects were accused of using fake names and purporting to be U.S. or Canadian citizens while really being Russian.

They are accused of attempting to infiltrate U.S. policymaking circles while posing as ordinary citizens, some of them as married couples.

Oleg Gordievsky, a former deputy head of the KGB in London who defected in 1985, said Russia probably has about 50 deep-cover couples spying inside the United States.


Countries often have a number of intelligence officials whose identities are declared to their host nation, usually working in embassies, trade delegations and other official posts.

Gordievsky, who spent nine years working in the KGB directorate in charge of illegal spy teams, said he estimates there are 400 declared Russian intelligence officers in the U.S., as well as up to 50 couples charged with covertly cultivating military and diplomat officials as sources of information.

He said the complexity involved in training and running undercover teams means Russia is unlikely to have significantly more operatives now than during his career.

"I understand the resources they have, and how many people they can train and send to other countries," Gordievsky said. "It is possible there may be more now, but not many more, and no more than 60 (couples)."

The ex-KGB officer said deep-cover spies often fail to deliver better intelligence than their colleagues who work in the open.

"They are supposed to be the vanguard of Russian intelligence," Gordievsky said. "But what they are really doing is nothing, they just sit at home in Britain, France and the U.S."


In Britain, the case stirred memories of the country's own illegal Soviet spy -- Melita Norwood, a civil servant who spent about 40 years passing atomic research and other secrets to Moscow. Authorities ruled against prosecuting the elderly grandmother when she was exposed in 1992. Norwood died in 2005 at the age of 93.

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