Russian news agency reveals name of CIA station chief in Moscow

US embassy in MoscowBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
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”. Read more of this post

Analysis: Is US diplomat arrested in Russia a CIA case officer?

Ryan Christopher FogleBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs lodged an official complaint yesterday with the United States Ambassador to Russia over the alleged espionage activities of Ryan Christopher Fogle. The Third Secretary in the Political Section of the US embassy was arrested with great media fanfare on Monday night, allegedly as he was trying to recruit a Russian intelligence officer. As can be expected, the Russian media had a field day with Fogle’s arrest; after all, it has been nearly a decade since the last time an American intelligence operative was publicly uncovered on Russian soil. Many Western observers, however, have questioned if Fogle could really be an officer of the Central Intelligence Agency, and whether the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) simply framed an unsuspecting junior American diplomat. Much of the skepticism expressed by Western commentators focuses on the articles that were allegedly found by the FSB in Fogle’s backpack. They included several pairs of sunglasses, recording devices, as well as two wigs. Would a CIA officer be foolish enough to be carrying with him surreptitious recording devices in downtown Moscow? And do modern case officers still employ wigs when walking the streets of foreign capitals recruiting spies? The answer is, of course, yes. Read more of this post

Alleged CIA officer arrested in Moscow in Russian sting operation

Ryan Christopher FogleBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
Russia has accused an American diplomat of secretly working for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) following his arrest during a sting operation in Moscow. The diplomat, who was expelled from Russia on Tuesday, is Ryan Christopher Fogle; he held the post of Third Secretary of the Political Department of the United States embassy in the Russian capital. He was detained on Monday evening by counterintelligence officers of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB). Fogle’s arrest marked the first time in nearly a decade that espionage charges were leveled against an American government employee in Russia. Fogle, a 29-year-old native of St. Lous, Missouri, who graduated from Colgate University in New York in 2006, was arrested by the FSB in Moscow’s Akademika Pilyugina Street, allegedly right in front of an apartment complex reserved for foreign diplomatic personnel. He is accused by the FSB of conspiring to recruit a member of the Russian intelligence services, who is allegedly an antiterrorist expert working in Russia’s North Caucasus region. The FSB told Russian media that Fogle had communicated with his would-be recruit on the phone at least twice in the days prior to the sting operation. The FSB even took the extremely unusual step of airing footage of Fogle’s arrest on Russian state-run television. The American diplomat was shown pinned on the ground, wearing a blonde wig and baseball cap, while FSB officers handcuffed him. A second video released by the FSB, shows Fogle sitting quietly in a government office, in the presence of three other American government officials, including Michael Klecheski, Chief Political Officer at the US embassy in Moscow. All four of them are shown staring in silence, while an FSB official is expressing his strong displeasure over Fogle’s alleged espionage activities. According to the FSB, when Fogle was arrested, he was found to be carrying a backpack containing —among other things— his diplomatic identification card, two wigs, three pairs of sunglasses, recording devices, an RFID shield, a compass and a knife. He was also carrying three Ziploc bags filled with $100,000 in €500 notes, as well as a letter, written in Russian, addressed to his would-be recruit. Read more of this post

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