Russia ‘considering spy swap with Germany’

Andreas and Heidrun AnschlagBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
The Russian government has allegedly approached Germany with an offer to swap a number of jailed spies, including a couple of Russian sleeper agents sentenced for espionage earlier this month in Stuttgart. Russia’s Kommersant newspaper alleged on Monday that that the Russian intelligence services are pressing the Kremlin for the repatriation of Andreas and Heidrun Anschlag, a married couple who were arrested in Germany in October of 2011. The two were convicted on July 2, 2013, of having spied on Germany since at least 1990 for the Soviet KGB’s First Chief Directorate and its post-Soviet successor organization, the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). German federal prosecutors also accuse the couple of document forgery, since their Austrian passports, which they used to enter West Germany from Mexico in 1988 (Andreas) and 1990 (Heidrun) were shown to be counterfeit. In return for the Anschlags, Moscow would be prepared to hand over “at least one spy” convicted in Russia for spying for the West, said Kommersant. Possible candidates would be Andrei Dumenkov, who is currently serving a 12-year sentence for allegedly giving German military intelligence blueprints of Russian missile designs, and Valery Mikhailov, a Russian counterintelligence officer said to be one of the United States Central Intelligence Agency’s “most successful agents [in Russia] in recent years”.   Read more of this post

News you may have missed #744

Navi PillayBy IAN ALLEN | |
►►Source says Mikhailov ‘will not be exchanged’ with US. There are rumors going around that the US might consider exchanging Russian arms merchant Viktor Bout, who is serving a 25-year sentence in a New York prison, for one or more CIA spies currently being held in Russian prisons. Russian news agency RIA Novosti has cited a “high ranking official in the Russian security services”, who suggests that Bout “might be exchanged”, but not with Valery Mikhailov, a Russian former counterintelligence officer, who was sentenced this week to 18 years in prison for allegedly spying for the CIA.
►►CIA preparing to pull back from Iraq. The US Central Intelligence Agency is preparing to cut its presence in Iraq to less than half of wartime levels, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cites “US officials familiar with the planning”. Under the plans being considered, says the paper, the CIA’s presence in Iraq would be reduced to 40% of wartime levels, when Baghdad was the largest CIA station in the world with more than 700 agency personnel. Interestingly, the plan would also reduce the US intelligence presence in the region as neighboring Syria appears to be verging on civil war.
►►Senior UN official blasts US drone strikes. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has said US drone attacks in Pakistan “raise serious questions about compliance with international law, in particular the principle of distinction and proportionality”. She also voiced concerns that the strikes were being conducted “beyond effective and transparent mechanisms of civilian or military control”. IntelNews provided this opinion on the matter, in 2009.

Russian colonel was ‘most successful CIA spy’ in recent years

Valery Mikhailov, left, with his attorneyBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
Before the dust could settle from last month’s closed-door trial of Vladimir Lazar, and the arrest of an unnamed missile engineer on charges of espionage, Russia claims to have exposed yet another spy. Valery Mikhailov, a retired Russian counterintelligence officer, has been given an 18-year prison sentence for allegedly spying on behalf of the United States Central Intelligence Agency. In disclosing Mikhailov’s sentence yesterday, Moscow District Military Court officials were deliberately vague about Mikhailov’s alleged espionage activities, and provided limited information on the precise charges against him. But reporters, who were not allowed to attend Mikhailov’s trial, were told that he voluntarily approached CIA officers in Russia in 2001 and offered to spy on his country on behalf of the US, in exchange for regular payments in cash. Russian government prosecutors said that, from 2001 until 2007, when his activities were detected by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Mikhailov gave his American handlers access to over a thousand copies of secret or top-secret documents. Most of these, according to reports in the Russian media, had been prepared by FSB analysts for top-level Russian government officials, including the President, Prime Minister, and members of the Security Council of the Russian Federation. Russian government prosecutors say that Mikhailov was arrested following an extensive period of surveillance by the FSB, which allegedly resulted in the capture of an American CIA courier. The latter was apprehended while surreptitiously collecting classified documents copied by Mikhailov. Following his arrest, Mikhailov is said to have admitted that he earned over $2 million from his espionage activities. Read more of this post

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