Russian ‘spy’ breaks silence, wants to leave UK for Russia

Igor Sutyagin

Igor Sutyagin

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
One of the four Russian alleged spies that were handed over to the West in return for 11 Russian intelligence officers arrested in the US last month, has issued a public statement for the first time since his July 9 release from prison. At the time of his release, Dr. Igor Sutyagin, a nuclear expert who headed the Russian Academy of Sciences’ USA and Canada Institute, had served 11 years of a 15-year sentence, for allegedly passing state secrets to Alternative Futures, a British company alleged to be a CIA front by the Russian government. Once Washington included his name on the top-secret exchange list, Sutyagin was transferred from his prison cell in Kholmogory prison, near Arkhangelsk in northern Russia, to the Lefortovo high-security jail in Moscow. It was there that, following a meeting with this family, he was told that he would receive a Presidential pardon in exchange for his unconditional admission of guilt. Minutes after he agreed to the deal, the Russian scientist was flown to London, still in his prison uniform. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #394 (Russia-US spy swap edition III)

  • Russian spy’s call to father triggered arrests. A telephone call from Russian spy Anna Chapman to her father in Moscow led US counterintelligence services to hasten the arrests of her and nine Russian agents in the United States, claims The Washington Post.
  • Non-Russian spy Pelaez to return to Peru in month. Vicky Pelaez, a journalist with dual US-Peruvian citizenship, who was deported from the United States to Russia on a spy swap, will return to Peru no sooner than in a month, Pelaez’s lawyer, Carlos Moreno, said on Monday.
  • Alleged CIA spy Sutyagin may return to Russia. Igor Sutyagin, a Russian arms expert convicted of espionage in 2004, may return home after he was deported to England in a spy swap with the US, according to his former colleague Pavel Podvig. “He has Russian citizenship, his wife and daughters are in Russia and he has been pardoned by the President”, said Podvig.

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News you may have missed #391 (Russia-US spy swap edition II)

  • Expelled spies to experience life in changed Russia. Like those before them, the sleeper spies who were deported to Russia last week in one of the biggest espionage exchanges in decades will probably miss the United States, picket fences and all. But what perhaps most distinguishes this affair from its cold war precursors is what awaits these Russians in their motherland.
  • Past Russian spies have found post-swap life gets a bit sticky. While life in Moscow may be duller than New York, Boston, New Jersey, Seattle and Washington, DC, where the 11 Russians charged last week allegedly lived as long-term, deep-penetration agents, it won’t be too bad, either, if their predecessors’ experience is any guide.
  • Life a nightmare for spies returning to Russia, says Soviet dissident. Vladimir Bukovsky, 67, a Soviet dissident exiled to Europe in a 1976 prisoner swap, says the Russian spies expelled from America to Russia last week “will go from living affluent lives with real freedom, to living under constant surveillance by the Russian secret services”.

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Senior Russian nuclear expert found dead in Malta

Alexander Pikayev

Alexander Pikayev

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Authorities in Malta have reported the death of a senior Russian expert on nuclear disarmament, whose body was discovered in his holiday apartment. Dr. Alexander Pikayev, 48, was the director of the Department of Disarmament and Conflict Resolution at the Moscow-based Institute of World Economy and International Relations. His work on nuclear armaments policy is internationally recognized and he was among Russia’s most visible media commentators on issues relating to nuclear proliferation. But last Wednesday, Dr. Pikayev’s body was discovered lying on the floor of an apartment he owned in Bugibba, Malta, where he had been holidaying since earlier this month. The German Press Agency reports that the Russian scientist appeared to have “accidentally slipped” and hit his head on a door. Read more of this post

Russian intelligence arrests, extradites fmr Kyrgyz interior minister

Moldomusa Kongantiyev

Kongantiyev

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
If there were any doubts that Russia is aggressively courting the new interim government in Kyrgyzstan, they were dispelled earlier today with the announcement that Russian authorities arrested the Central Asian republic’s former interior minister. Kyrgyzstan’s National Security State Service (NSSS) announced that Moldomusa Kongantiyev was arrested on Sunday in Moscow, by agents of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), and will be extradited to Bishkek, where he will face charges of using state repression against demonstrators. Kongantiyev had escaped to Russia in mid-April, after he was abducted and viciously beaten by Kyrgyz opposition demonstrators, who released him after his family paid a significant amount of money as ransom. IntelNews hears that Kongantiyev suspected that Moscow planned to extradite him to Kyrgyzstan, and that some of the supporters of the deposed regime in Russia offered to hide him. But their attempt to smuggle him out of a hospital in Moscow, where he was receiving medical care, was thwarted by the FSB, after a tip from  NSSS. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #321 (CIA edition)

  • Uruguay ex-president sent to prison for 1973 coup. Declassified documents show that, at the time of the coup, Juan María Bordaberry told the US ambassador that “Uruguay’s democratic traditions and institutions […] were themselves the real threat to democracy”.
  • FSB ‘dropped the ball’ in Moscow metro bombings. Two Russian intelligence observers argue that Russia’s new strategy has shifted toward preventing coordinated actions by large groups of militants, which has come at the expense of taking measures to prevent individual suicide attacks, such as those of last Monday in Moscow.
  • Calls for expanded DoJ probe of FBI killing of Detroit imam. The US Justice Department is probing the killing of Detroit-area Islamic cleric Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, who was shot dead during an FBI raid shortly after being indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit federal crimes. The FBI said Abdullah was shot after he opened fire, but critics say he may have been targeted for assassination.

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Philby’s granddaughter revisits Moscow in search of ‘Kim’

Charlotte Philby

Charlotte Philby

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Charlotte Philby, daughter of John Philby, H.A.R. “Kim” Philby’s oldest son, has written an account of a recent trip to Moscow to revisit her grandfather’s apartment and grave. In her article, published in British daily The Independent, she describes her visit to Kuntsevo Cemetery, where her grandfather, a British intelligence officer, who secretly spied on behalf of the Soviet KGB and NKVD, was given a hero’s burial in 1988. Even though Kim Philby has been dead for over 20 years, his legacy is very much alive in both sides involved in the Cold War. Charlotte Philby reveals that, in 2005, she and her mother were refused service in a store in the US state of Arizona “on account of the name on our credit cards”. She also claims that “a gang of five or six of Kim’s former colleagues still meet up every month [in Moscow] and raise a toast in his honor”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0247

  • US government lowers threshold for inclusion on no-fly lists. According to senior US State Department officials, the government has already lowered the threshold for information deemed important enough to put suspicious individuals on a watch list or no-fly list. CNN reports that suspects will now include citizens of the notorious Islamist country of Cuba….
  • CIA starts sharing data with climate scientists. This blog has kept an eye on the CIA’s Climate Change Center, which was established late last year. It now turns out the Agency had started monitoring climate change in 1992, under project MEDEA (Measurements of Earth Data for Environmental Analysis), but the program was shut down in 2001 by the Bush Administration. The Climate Change Center, therefore, represents the re-establishment of an earlier effort.
  • How the KGB tried to recruit an NBC News reporter. FBI files show that the Soviet KGB tried to recruit the late NBC News reporter Irving R. Levine, while he was stationed in Moscow in the 1950s.

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Writings by CIA defector Edward Lee Howard published

Edward Lee Howard

E.L. Howard

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
An extensive article on spy tradecraft, written by CIA case officer Edward Lee Howard, after he defected to the Soviet Union in 1985, has been published for the first time. Howard, the only intelligence agent known to have been trained by both the CIA and the Soviet KGB, joined the CIA in 1980, but began collaborating with the KGB in 1983, after the CIA fired him for repeatedly failing to pass a polygraph test. After he was exposed by Vitaly Yurchenko, a KGB officer who allegedly defected to the US in Rome, Italy, Howard employed his CIA training to evade FBI counterintelligence agents and escape to Russia, where he lived until his death in 2002. In the early 1990s, the FBI tried to lure Howard to capture, using, among others, Bureau counterintelligence agent Robert Eringer. Eringer befriended Howard and, as part of the luring operation, commissioned the former CIA agent to write a book entitled Spy’s Guide to Central Europe. Read more of this post

Russia jails man for passing military secrets to US Pentagon

Iskander missile

Iskander missile

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A Serb national was given an eight-year sentence by a Russian court earlier today, for allegedly passing classified information on Russian defense projects to an agent of the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Agents with Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB, arrested the 61-year-old man, named Aleksandar Georgijevic, at a Moscow airport in 2007, as he was reportedly trying to leave Russia. They accused him of giving secret documents to Farid Rafi, whom the Russians claim was “working in the interests of the intelligence agency of the US defense ministry”. Georgijevic’s trial took place behind closed doors. But Russian media report that he began collecting classified information in as early as 1998, focusing primarily on the Russian military’s R-500 supersonic cruise missile, as well as the Iskander, Blokada and Khrizantema-C  tactical missiles. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0081

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Czechs, Russians expel diplomats in escalating spy row

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The Russian Foreign Ministry ordered two Czech diplomats out of Russia on Tuesday, one day after the Czech Republic expelled two members of staff of the Russian embassy in Prague. On August 17, Czech websites reported the expulsion of Russia’s deputy military attaché in Prague, and another Russian embassy official, who was told not to return to the Czech Republic from his vacation. The move came after the Czech Military Intelligence Service (VZ) allegedly verified that the two diplomats are paid employees of the Russian secret services. According to one report, VZ was able to establish that the two Russian embassy officials “tried to develop close ties with people from the Czech Defense Ministry and [had] shown a particular interest in the planned construction of a US radar base on Czech soil”, a reference to Washington’s missile defense shield plans for Eastern Europe. Read more of this post

Kim Philby’s granddaughter describes memories of her grandfather

Charlotte Philby

Charlotte Philby

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Charlotte Philby, daughter of John Philby, H.A.R. “Kim” Philby’s oldest son, has penned an extensive account of her memories of her grandfather. In her article, published yesterday in British daily The Independent, she describes Kim Philby as “a proud man, and one who chose to publicly stand by his actions”. Kim Philby was probably the most successful double spy in history. While working as a senior member of British intelligence, he spied on behalf of the Soviet KGB and NKVD from the early 1930s until 1963, when he defected to Moscow. Two years later he was awarded the Order of the Red Banner. The Soviet authorities buried him with honors when he died in 1988. Read more of this post