News you may have missed #390 (Russia-US spy swap edition I)

  • In spy swap, agents were pawns in a practiced game. The US arrests were not made to facilitate a swap, said a US official, speaking on condition of anonymity. Rather, they were precipitated, at least partly, by the plans of several of the Russians to leave this country this summer.
  • Russian spies get tepid reception in Moscow. The 10 spies who pleaded guilty to acting as foreign agents in the United States, including one Peruvian, were given a tepid, uneasy reception in Russia on Friday. State-controlled national television channels reported their return briefly, with no patriotic fervor. No national TV channels carried live coverage of the plane’s landing, even though it was available from international news agencies.
  • Russian, US spies start new lives but mystery swirls. The 14 spies swapped by Moscow and Washington were starting new lives in Russia and the West last weekend, but mystery shrouded their precise whereabouts. In one case, Igor Sutyagin, a Russian nuclear arms expert who allegedly spied for the US, found himself at a hotel somewhere in Britain, without a visa and still wearing his Russian prison clothes.

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Russia, US, in largest spy swap since World War II

Igor Sutyagin

Igor Sutyagin

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The Russian and American governments have agreed to conduct one of history’s largest spy exchanges, as ten Russian agents captured in the US last month have been swapped for four Russian citizens imprisoned by Moscow for spying for the US and Britain. The ten Russians arrested by the FBI in June were non-official-cover (NOC) operatives, otherwise known as ‘illegals’, a term used to identify deep-cover intelligence operatives not associated with a country’s diplomatic representation. According to reports, they were all instructed by the SVR, Russia’s equivalent of MI6, which is responsible for all foreign intelligence operations abroad, to plead guilty to “acting as unregistered foreign agents” a charge not equivalent to espionage in either seriousness or repercussions. They were then legally forbidden from ever returning to the United States and summarily expelled. They were taken from the courtroom directly to the airport, where they boarded a plane to Vienna, Austria. In return, Russian government sources have confirmed that four Russian citizens, arrested in recent years for spying on behalf of the US or Britain, will be released from prison and delivered to US authorities. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #353

  • Name of British Mossad agent handed to Interpol. Dubai police have identified another suspect in the January murder of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, by Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. He is reportedly a 62-year-old British citizen, who is believed to be currently hiding in western Africa.
  • Russia jails man for spying for the US. Gennady Sipachyov, a Russian whose age and profession have been kept secret by Moscow, has been sentenced to a four-year sentence for allegedly emailing secret military maps identifying classified Russian military infrastructure to the US Pentagon in 2008. Earlier this month, a Russian court rejected an appeal by another alleged US spy, Igor Sutyagin.
  • Bulgarian government wants to copy CIA. Bulgaria’s Defense Minister, Anyu Angelov, has proposed the merging of intelligence services to create a mega-structure of the CIA type. Meanwhile, a panel investigating Bulgaria’s communist-era police files has exposed two of the country’s former counterintelligence heads as former communist state security agents.

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News you may have missed #341

  • Russian court rejects ‘spy’ scientist’s appeal. A Russian court has rejected an appeal for the release of academic Igor Sutyagin, former division head in the Russian Academy of Sciences’ USA and Canada Institute, who is serving a 15-year sentence for allegedly passing state secrets to foreign officials.
  • Ex-CIA agent’s arrest in VA was eventful, say sources. We reported earlier this week that Andrew M. Warren, the CIA’s Algiers station chief, who is accused of having drugged and raped two Algerian women at his official residence, was arrested at a Norfolk, Virginia motel, after he failed to show up for a court hearing. It now appears that Warren “had a gun in his waistband […] and officers used a taser to subdue him”.
  • Documents show CIA thought Gary Powers had defected. Declassified documents show the CIA did not believe that Gary Powers, who piloted the U2 spy plane shot down over Russia in 1960, causing the U2 incident, had been shot down. Instead, the agency spread the rumor that Powers “baled out and spent his first night as a defector in a Sverdlovsk nightclub”!

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