Russia vows to expel 'US CIA agent' from Moscow

Russia vows to expel 'US CIA agent' from Moscow

MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse
Russia vows to expel US CIA agent from Moscow

A man named as Ryan Fogle by the Russian Federal Security Service, sits at the receiving office of the Federal Security Service in Moscow in this undated handout photo released by the Press service of Russian Federal Security Service May 14. REUTERS photo

Russia on May 14 ordered the expulsion of an alleged American CIA agent working undercover at the US embassy who was discovered with a large stash of money trying to recruit a Russian agent.

Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB, ex-KGB) identified the man as Ryan C. Fogle - third secretary of the political section of Washington's embassy in Moscow - and said he had been handed back to the embassy after his detention.

The foreign ministry said it was summoning US ambassador Michael McFaul on Wednesday for an explanation and slammed Washington for what it described as "provocative acts in the spirit of the Cold War".

It declared Fogle to be persona non grata who had to return to the United States "as soon as possible" - a complete contrast to the joint pledges for intelligence cooperation after the Boston bombings.

No comment on allegations

US State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell later confirmed that an American staffer at the embassy had been briefly detained, but refused to respond to allegations that the man was an undercover CIA agent.

"We can confirm that an officer at our US embassy in Moscow was briefly detained and was released,"
he told reporters.

"We've seen the Russian foreign ministry announcement and we have no further comment at this time," he said, adding under repeated questioning that "I don't have anything more for you on the details of the case." A US official, asking not to be named, said that in such cases "when there are orders to remove our personnel, we comply with that." Ventrell hinted more details might be provided after ambassador McFaul's meetings, but also refused to discuss whether Washington might be thinking of taking any tit-for-tat measure.

Photographs published by state English language television RT showed a baseball-capped Fogle being pinned face down to the ground and having his hands put behind his back for the arrest.

He was then shown being questioned at the Federal Security Service while documents such as his passport and a stack of 500 euro notes along with some letters were displayed.

The FSB footage also displayed supposed espionage equipment including two wigs as well as a compass and even a mundane atlas of Moscow as well as a somewhat old-fashioned mobile phone.

The FSB warned in a statement that "recently, the US intelligence service has made repeated attempts to recruit the staff of Russian law enforcement agencies and special services".

Russian state television shown footage provided by the FSB in which Fogle is seen sitting down in a checked shirt as a man - presumably a Russian security officer - tells the suspect about his alleged crime.

He is then accused of offering $100,000 for espionage to a security service employee who is involved in counterinsurgency work in the Russian North Caucasus.

"We did not believe this at first, because as you know the FSB has been actively helping the investigation of the Boston blasts," the officer says as Fogle and three men silently listen with arms crossed.

The incident comes amid a new downturn in Russian-US relations sparked by the Syrian crisis and concern in Washington over what it sees as President Vladimir Putin's crackdown on all dissent.

The last major spy row between the two former Cold War rivals involved the glamourous Anna Chapman and large group of Russian spies who were arrested on the US East Coast in June 2010.