Russian news agency reveals name of CIA station chief in Moscow

US embassy in MoscowBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A Russian news agency revealed the name of the alleged station chief of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Moscow, but then deleted the information from its website. Russia Today, a multilingual Moscow-based television network funded by the Russian government, hosted an interview on May 17 with an anonymous representative of the FSB, the Russian Federal Security Service. The FSB official was commenting on the case of Ryan Fogle, an alleged CIA case officer who was detained in downtown Moscow by the FSB on the evening of Monday, April 13. The Russians claim that Fogle, who held the post of Third Secretary of the Political Department of the United States embassy in Moscow, was trying to recruit a Russian intelligence officer. Russia Today quoted the FSB official as saying that Fogle’s operations “crossed the red line and [the FSB] had no choice but to react [by] observing official procedures”. He added that Fogle had been detected trying to recruit Russian government employees in as early as 2011. At that time, the anonymous source told Russia Today the FSB had “decided to warn [its] American colleagues and ask them to stop these activities”. The warning, he said, had been delivered by the FSB directly to the CIA station chief in Moscow; the article then proceeded to name the American official. International media are not bound by the 1982 US Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which makes it a federal crime to intentionally reveal the identity of individuals engaged in covert roles with US intelligence agencies. However, publicly revealing the identity of senior intelligence officials during peacetime is highly irregular and frowned upon, even among adversaries. The BBC, which reported on the revelation, described the move as a “breach of diplomatic protocol”. It noted, however that it is unclear whether the outed CIA station chief, who the FSB said it warned about Fogle in 2011, remains in that post in Moscow today. Interestingly, less than four hours after Russia Today aired the article containing the name of the alleged CIA station chief, it replaced the piece with an edited version that did not contain the name. Writing on his personal website, veteran intelligence researcher Matthew Aid expressed the opinion that “someone in the Russian intelligence community almost certainly called up [Russia Today] and asked them to delete the name”. American government officials have refused comment on the story. A US Department of State spokesperson said simply: “we still feel that we have a very positive relationship [with Russia], and one that we can continue to work together on areas where we agree”.

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7 Responses to Russian news agency reveals name of CIA station chief in Moscow

  1. Pete says:

    The head of station would be officially accredited to Russian Government but among Russians his/her identity would perhaps only be known to Russian security and intelligence agencies and a limited number within the Russian leadership.

    Revealing CIA employment can make a head of station a higher level terrorist target than he/she would want to be and basically complicate their dealings with people (previously) not in the know overseas and even in the US.

  2. M. says:

    Is this business as usual? I think not.

    This Fogle incident is just the tip of the iceberg: This isn’t just breaking diplomatic protocol, its an escalation of the covert conflict going on between the US and Russia.

    The fact that the FSB “leaked” the name of the COS to the Russian press is worrying. However, its obvious that the US could reciprocate by leaking Russian intelligence officials names to US newspapers – so why did the FSB go ahead with this despite that fact?

    I think it is highly improbable that FSB would allow any employees to speak to the press unauthorized. So, ruling that out, my question is this:

    Did RT redact the name from their story because Langley threatened reciprocity, or did the Centre countermand the leak? Did the Russians think they could get away with this type of thing, or did they get cold feet?

    Syria, the Magnitsky Act, and the Boston Bombing debacle have been brewing a perfect storm scenario which is dredging up subsurface “flotsam and jetsom” like this story. The tide may bring stranger things yet, in the days to come.

    Hold fast,

    M.

  3. M. says:

    JF,

    The only time in recent history (that I can recall) that a foreign govt exposed a CIA station-chief, was two years ago when the Pakistanis named the Islamabad COS in a law suit, which inevitably wound up in the press (albeit misspelled).

    Did this kind of thing ever happen during the cold war? What is the historical precedence here?

  4. intelNews says:

    @M.: There was also the case of the CIA station chief in Tel Aviv who was outed by an Israeli publication in 1998 –probably on instructions by the Israeli government, which was upset about US intelligence training Palestinian Authority officers. But other than that, and Pakistan more recently, I can’t recall any other such cases. I am somewhat amazed to see how little attention this has been given by the US media. [JF]

  5. The claim that the FSB ‘warned’ the CIA chief of station (whose name was given) ‘as early as 2011′ about Mr. Fogle’s attempts to recruit somebody is obvious lies. He only arrived in Moscow in late April 2011 as a freshman. Even if he worked for the CIA, which is doubtful, he would never be involved in recruitment at that stage. In early 2011 the Russians ‘warned’ the Agency in connection with the defection of Colonel Poteyev of Directorate S who handed over to the FBI 11 Russian illegals in June 2010.

  6. M says:

    Mr. Volodarsly,

    I agree that freshman Fogle would not be recruiting and running agents in the heart of the most difficult (arguably, for the US) intelligence-gathering environment in the world. Even if he does work for the Agency, why would they send out an employee with diplomatic cover when they know damn well that FSB counterintelligence keeps constant surveillance on all US Embassy employees coming and going from the Embassy complex? It simply doesn’t add up.

    It is interesting that today, TASS is reporting* that Putin is sending a response to Obama’s secret letter to Washington, by means of the Russian Security Council Secretary, Nikolai Patrushev. Last week, Putin’s foreign policy aide Yury Ushakov said “the message will be couched in a constructive spirit.”**

    Intentionally blowing the cover of the Moscow station-chief, then saying it was an extension of a year-old-warning is not constructive: It smacks of subversion and deception — which can, if taken at face value, look like preludes to war.

    It is also interesting that you brought up the Poteyev case — it is obvious that the Russians are still royally pissed that he defected. Its probable that the colonel is still paying dividends for the Americans, as some speculated about a year ago.***

    Should we consider the Poteyev case in context of this row between the Russians and the Americans?

    I should think, undoubtedly, yes! However, precisely how Colonel Poteyev fits in to the equation is much more difficult to gauge and analyze. If the Americans are protecting him, and the Russians are still trying to assassinate him, I imagine that his part to play isn’t fait accompli.

    This is starting to become deliciously complicated — and more dangerous.

    Regards,

    M.

    *(http://bit.ly/13IqTL9)
    **(http://bit.ly/13ItMLM)
    ***(http://bit.ly/13Ivr4a)

  7. Dear M,

    The Russians had two most important intelligence failures in the past 10 years, considerably exceeding the defection of Oleg Gordievsky in 1985. These two are, of course, Sergey Tretiakov in 2000 and Alexander Poteyev in 2010. What followed is well known: networks and individual agents unmasked, arrested and expelled. Eleven illegals were a great show. But not the last one. The Anschlag couple was apprehended in Germany in October 2011. A birth certificate for the wife (Heidrun Freud/Anschlag) was secured by Juan Lazaro, one of the 11 illegals. In December, Mikhail Repin, a junior member of the Russian embassy, was expelled from Britain for espionage. A few weeks later, in January 2012, Jeffery Delisle who worked at top-secret Canadian naval facilities and flipped sides five years before pleaded guilty to spying for Russia. In March, Poeteray, Anschag’s star source, was detained in The Hague. In August, a German IT specialist at the NATO airbase in Ramstein was caught stealing military secrets. German authorities found 6.5 million euros on his accounts in London and Luxemburg, reportedly paid by the SVR. In October an indictment was unsealed in a New York court charging Alexander Fishenko of Arc Electronics and ten other defendants with multimillion-dollar conspiracy to illegally export cutting-edge microelectronics from U.S. makers for the Russian military. Finally, in January this year followed the expulsion of Benjamin Dillon from Moscow, on 5 May Thomas Firestone was forcefully sent to the USA and then we all watched the Fogle comedy. What else should we expect?

    Regards, BV

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