FBI busts alleged Russian spy ring, 11 arrested [updated]
June 29, 2010 6 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Ten members of an alleged Russian spy ring operating in America’s East Coast were arrested in a series of coordinated raids on Sunday. US Department of Justice insiders said that the arrests, which took place in Arlington, New Jersey, New York, and Boston, marked the culmination of an FBI counterintelligence operation initiated during the second administration of President Bill Clinton. It appears that the alleged Russian agents were non-official-cover (NOC) operatives, otherwise known as ‘illegals’, a term used to identify deep-cover intelligence operatives not associated with the diplomatic representation of the Russian Federation in the United States. Eight of the arrestees were married couples and all were using fake identities. Almost all are fluent in several languages; they include “Vicky Pelaez”, who worked for a New York Spanish-language newspaper, another woman identified as “Anna Chapman” (see photo), and “Mikhail Semenko”, who is said to be fluent in English, Spanish, Russian, and even Mandarin. An eleventh alleged member of the spy ring, named as “Christopher R. Metsos”, remains at large and is wanted by the FBI was captured by Greek-Cypriot authorities at Larnaca airport earlier today, while trying to board a flight for Hungary. Several of those arrested have been living “quiet, suburban lives” in the United States for up to 20 years. The aim of the alleged spy ring is said to have been to supply Moscow with intelligence on US defense policy, specifically nuclear weapons, as well as various Congressional activities. It appears that most of the alleged spy ring’s contacts were in the Washington, DC beltway, and included members of nongovernmental organizations, pressure groups, think tanks, and lobbyists. It is worth noting that the ten Russian NOCs have not been charged with espionage, but rather with “conspiring to act as unauthorized foreign agents” and “conspiracy to commit money laundering”.