Canada memos decry use of Canadian passports by Russian spies

Canadian passport

Canadian passport

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
In June of 2010 media headlines were dominated by news of a Russian spy ring in the United States that was busted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. On June 27, eleven people, all sleeper agents of the SVR, Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, were arrested in early morning raids across several US states. The arrestees, who included media sensation Anna Chapman, were later exchanged for four alleged CIA agents serving time in Russian jails. What is less known however, is the fact that four of the members of the busted spy ring were claiming to be Canadian citizens. SVR operative Natalia Pereverzeva was caught using a forged Canadian passport under the fake name ‘Patricia Mills’. Two other SVR officers, Andrei Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova, were claiming Canadian nationality under the forged names Donald Heathfield and Tracey Foley. A fourth alleged member of the spy ring, ‘Christopher Metsos’, was apprehended in Cyprus, after using a forged Canadian passport to enter the Mediterranean island. He later disappeared, having skipped bail. Now, sixteen months after the arrests of the Russian spies, The Canadian Press has acquired several hundred pages of memoranda and internal emails from Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT). Substantial portions of the documents, which were acquired through Canada’s Access to Information Act, remain censored; but The Press reports that they show that employees of DFAIT’s Passport Canada office held “urgent meetings and high-level briefings” in the days following the FBI arrests, in order to address the revelations concerning SVR’s illegal use of Canadian passports. In the documents, Canadian officials opine that the use by Russian spies of forged Canadian travel documents poses a “troubling threat to the integrity of Canadian [passports] and identity security”. Read more of this post

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Did fugitive spy Metsos lead to Russian spy arrests?

Christopher Metsos

C.R. Metsos

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Soon after the June 27 arrests of 10 Russian non-official-cover (NOC) spies in several US cities, one name came to the attention of intelligence observers: Sergei Tretyakov. Tretyakov was a senior Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) officer who defected to the US in 2000, while second-in-command at the SVR station in Russia’s United Nations mission in New York –the same outfit that run the deep-cover operatives arrested in June by the FBI. The Bureau’s own admission that it began monitoring the operatives around 2001, has caused many to believe that Tretyakov, who died suddenly on June 13, at age 53, may have tipped off the FBI about the NOCs. But Russian investigative journalist Yulia Latynina has raised a second possibility, no less intriguing than the first. Namely that it was not Tretyakov who betrayed the deep-cover operatives to the FBI, but rather the mysterious so-called 11th spy, Christopher R. Metsos, a seasoned SVR operative who is said to have acted as a go-between and financier for all 10 Russian spies. Read more of this post

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Fate of 11th Russian spy suspect remains a mystery

Christopher Metsos

C.R. Metsos

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
As the world’s media attention is focused firmly on last week’s 14-member spy swap between Russia and the United States, the fate of the 11th member of the Russian deep-cover intelligence network remains unknown. The operative, known as Christopher R. Metsos, was listed as “defendant No. 1” in the FBI criminal complaint against the now infamous Russian illegals network. Like his co-defendants, he was not charged with espionage, but with “acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government”. He was also charged with money laundering, and was described as the main financier of his ten co-defendants. However, Metsos escaped arrest in the US, because during the FBI raids he was in Cyprus, where he had arrived on June 17. He was arrested on June 29 at the island’s Larnaca International Airport, while trying to board a flight for Budapest, Hungary. A much younger woman traveling with him was allowed to leave on the flight, according to Cypriot media. Read more of this post

Analysis: What we know about the Russian spy ring case

SVR seal

SVR seal

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
If you are frustrated with the increasingly idiotic and sex-obsessed media coverage of the Russian spy ring recently busted by the FBI, you are not alone. Less than a week since news of the arrests in the US of ten alleged deep-cover agents of Russia’s SVR intelligence agency emerged, sensationalist media hacks have left no stone unturned. Thankfully, Stratfor Global Intelligence has produced an excellent early summary of this developing story, complete with a useful diagram of the known members of the SVR spy ring. The summary correctly points out some of the critical issues in the espionage case, including the fact that the 11 suspects appeared to be primarily run out of the SVR residence at the Russian mission to the United Nations in New York, and not out of the Russian Embassy in Washington DC. Read more of this post

Wanted Russian spy ring member skips bail in Cyprus

Achilleos Hotel

Achilleos Hotel

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Police in the Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus have issued an arrest warrant for a member of an alleged Russian spy ring in the United States, who had been released on bail following his capture on Tuesday. The FBI says that Christopher R. Metsos, who holds Canadian citizenship, was the financial go-between in the 11-member Russian spy ring, which was busted in a series of coordinated raids across several US states on Saturday. On June 25, Interpol issued an international arrest warrant for Metsos, who escaped arrest in the US because he was in Cyprus, where he had arrived on June 17. He was arrested at the island’s Larnaca International Airport on Tuesday, while trying to board a flight for Budapest, Hungary. Remarkably, however, Metsos was soon released on bail, awaiting an extradition request from Washington. Predictably, on Wednesday, he failed to report to Larnaca police, as stipulated in his bail release court order. Read more of this post

FBI busts alleged Russian spy ring, 11 arrested [updated]

Anna Chapman

Anna Chapman

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. Read more of this post

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