Dual US-Russian citizen pleads guilty to spying for Russia

Alexander FishenkoA resident of Texas, who is accused by United States authorities of setting up a front company in order to illegally acquire American technology on behalf of Russia’s intelligence services, has pleaded guilty to espionage charges. Alexander Fishenko, 49, was one of 11 people arrested in October 2012 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The arrests came during several raids in locations around Houston, Texas, which included the headquarters of Arc Electronics, Inc. The FBI accused the export firm of having shipped over $50 million-worth of military-grade micro-electronics since 2008. The supplies were received in Moscow, Russia, by a mysterious procurement company called Apex System LLC. Counter-intelligence investigators in the US claim that both firms are part of an elaborate scheme set up by Russian military intelligence, aimed at stealing dual-use electronics hardware created by American firms.

According to the indictment, Arc Electronics told its US suppliers that the microelectronics technologies were intended for use in various types of streetlights. But in reality, said the FBI, the company gave the hi-tech supplies to the Russian Ministry of Defense for use in airborne surveillance systems, as well as in remote weapons guidance systems, among other military applications. Federal prosecutors said that, for over four years, Arc Electronics engaged in a prolonged “surreptitious and systematic” scheme to circumvent US government export controls, thus seriously damaging US national security. Following the early-morning raids, the FBI unsealed indictments against 11 Arc Electronics employees, most of whom were charged with “acting as unregistered agents of the Russian Federation in the United States” —legal jargon for espionage.

Fishenko, who is originally from Kazakhstan, was scheduled to face trial on September 21 in New York. But on Wednesday he chose to plead guilty to the charges leveled against him. He is the fifth member of the 11 Apex System employees arrested back in 2012 to plead guilty to espionage. A government spokesman said the Fishenko’s plea did not result from an agreement to cooperate with the FBI. He now faces up to 15 years in prison. His lawyer, Richard Levitt, declined comment when he was contacted on Wednesday. The Russian government has denied that it had any involvement with Fishenko’s operations.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 08 September 2015 | Permalink

Moscow denies knowledge of alleged Russian spy ring busted in Texas

Alexander FishenkoBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Government officials in Moscow have denied knowledge of an alleged Russian spy ring, which is accused by United States authorities of procuring sensitive microelectronics technology on behalf of the Russian military. Early on Wednesday morning, the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted pre-dawn raids at several locations in Houston, Texas, and arrested eight members of the alleged spy ring. Four of the arrestees are allegedly Russian citizens, while the remaining five are from Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Ukraine. Four are naturalized American citizens. They include Alexander Fishenko, chief executive officer of Apex System LLC, which is accused by the FBI of having exported over $50 million in dual-use microelectronic devices to Russia since 2008. US federal prosecutors allege that three more spy-ring members are currently in Moscow; they include Yuri Savin, Director of Marketing at a company called Artrilor, which is said to have been at the receiving end of Apex System’s export operations. According to the indictment, Arc Electronics told its US suppliers that the microelectronics technologies were intended for use in various types of streetlights. But in reality, said the FBI, the company gave the hi-tech supplies to the Russian Ministry of Defense for use in airborne surveillance systems, as well as in remote weapons guidance systems, among other military applications. The FBI says it has in its possession extensive audio intercepts of the suspects communicating with Russian intelligence, as well as conferring among them about how to hide incriminating documents from US federal authorities. But Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, told Russian reporters on Thursday that the charges against the 11 individuals were “of a criminal nature” and had “nothing to do with intelligence activity”. Read more of this post

FBI raids alleged Russian front-company, indicts 11 on spy charges

Russian Ministry of DefenseBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The United States has indicted employees of an alleged Russian front-company in Texas, accused of procuring sensitive microelectronics technology for use by Russian military and intelligence agencies. Public prosecutors in New York said yesterday that the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted raids in locations around Houston, Texas, which included the headquarters of Arc Electronics, Inc. The export firm is accused of having shipped over $50 million-worth of military-grade microelectronics since 2008. The supplies were received in Moscow, Russia, by a mysterious procurement company called Apex System LLC. Counterintelligence investigators in the US claim both firms are part of an elaborate scheme set up by Russian military intelligence, aimed at stealing dual-use electronics hardware created by American firms. According to the indictment, Arc Electronics told its US suppliers that the microelectronics technologies were intended for use in various types of streetlights. But in reality, said the FBI, the company gave the hi-tech supplies to the Russian Ministry of Defense for use in airborne surveillance systems, as well as in remote weapons guidance systems, among other military applications. Federal prosecutors said that, for over four years, Arc Electronics engaged in a prolonged “surreptitious and systematic” scheme to circumvent US government export controls, thus seriously damaging US national security. Following the early-morning raids, the FBI unsealed indictments against 11 Arc Electronics employees, most of whom were charged with “acting as unregistered agents of the Russian Federation in the United States” —legal jargon for espionage. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #654

Aleksandr ShlyakhturovBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Anonymous hacks intel analysis firm StratFor. The loose-knit hacking movement Anonymous claimed Sunday via Twitter that it had stolen thousands of credit card numbers and other personal information belonging to clients of intelligence analysis firm Stratfor. The company had apparently failed to encrypt its customers’ credit card account information. The hackers announced their intention to use the credit cards for charitable donations.
►►CIA Inspector General clears assistance with NYPD. Back in August, The CIA denied allegations by the Associated Press that it helped the New York Police Department conduct covert surveillance on New York Muslims. The agency said the report “mischaracterized the nature and scope” of the CIA’s support for the NYPD. Now a report by the office of the CIA Inspector General, the CIA’s internal watchdog, has concluded that there was “no evidence that any part of the agency’s support to the NYPD constituted ‘domestic spying’”. The Associated Press notes that it is not clear if this report opens the door for other municipal police departments nationwide to work closely with the CIA in the war on terrorism.
►►Russia replaces head of military spy agency. After denying initial rumors, Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Monday that “Major General Igor Sergun has been appointed head of the GRU [Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate] through a Kremlin decree”. Sergun replaces Aleksandr Shlyakhturov, who had spearheaded a shake-up of the service since his appointment in 2009. The state RIA Novosti news agency quoted a ministry spokesman suggesting that Shlyakhturov had reached retirement age. No other reason was given for the move. Incidentally, if you are wondering how spies are faring in Dmitri Medvedev’s and Vladimir Putin’s administration, read this enlightening analysis by Mark Galeotti, Professor of Global Affairs at New York University.

Mysterious Russian spy goes on trial in Poland

Valentin Korabelnikov

V. Korabelnikov

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The trial has started in Warsaw, Poland, of an unnamed Russian citizen accused of working for Russian military intelligence. On October 22, the mysterious Russian, known only as “Tadeusz J.”, appeared before the Regional Court of Warsaw and pleaded not guilty to charges of collecting military intelligence on Poland on behalf of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU). The accused has a Polish-sounding name and is fluent in Polish, but is not a Polish citizen. Instead, he lived in Poland under permanent residency status for at least decade. His legal income appears to have come from his ownership of a hunting-rifle accessories store. But he was arrested last February, after a six-month surveillance operation by Poland’s Internal Security Agency (ABW). He was subsequently charged of obtaining classified information on the Polish military through his patronage of elite Polish hunting clubs, whose members included several Polish military officials. Read more of this post

Polish officials reveal arrest of alleged Russian spy

Valentin Korabelnikov

V. Korabelnikov

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
The Polish government has announced the arrest of a Russian resident of Warsaw, on charges of spying for Russia. The man, whose identity has not been released, was apparently arrested last February or March, after a six-month surveillance operation by Poland’s Internal Security Agency (ABW). Polish officials did not say why the arrest was kept secret for so long, but revealed that the alleged spy’s capture was known only to Poland’s president, the prime minister and the office of the prosecutor. The alleged spy is said to be a Russian citizen and a fluent Polish speaker, who has lived in Poland under permanent residency status for at least decade. His legal income appears to have come from his ownership of a hunting-rifle accessories store. Read more of this post

How many spy drones did Russia purchase from Israel?

MK II UAV

MK II UAV

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Back in April, intelNews reported on a $53 million agreement between Russia and Israel to provide Moscow with three Israeli-made intelligence-gathering drones. Much was made at the time of the purchase of those unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which was interpreted as an indirect admission by Moscow that its armed forces severely lacked aerial intelligence. The purchase of the three Israel-made drones was reportedly designed to cover immediate needs, while the Russians were working on a plan to start building their own UAVs. It turns out, however, that neither the Israelis nor the Russians were quite upfront in their public announcement of the deal. Last April the two sides said that Russia would receive “three unmanned aircraft” from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). In reality, $53 million is much too high a fee to purchase just three UAVs. This puzzled Washington, which does not want to see Russia improve its aerial reconnaissance capabilities. The US Pentagon thus sought –and subsequently received– assurances from Israel that it was not planning to sell Moscow its state-of-the art, super-expensive Heron UAV model. But the Americans were correct to be suspicious of the high cost of the deal. Russian media now reports that the Russians will be receiving, not three, but twelve UAVs for their $53 million. Read more of this post