A statement from the FSB said that overnight on May 13/14 Russian FSB counter-intelligence agencies detained a member of the US Central Intelligence Agency, named as Ryan Christopher Fogle, who worked as third secretary of the political department of the US Embassy in Moscow.
It is alleged he was caught red-handed, with written instructions, a large sum of money and a wig.
The foreign ministry said Ryan C. Fogle must return to the United States “as soon as possible,” adding that such “provocative acts in the spirit of the Cold War in no way help strengthen mutual trust” between Moscow and Washington.
We don’t know more than what we’ve read on the news but expulsion also means he will only have a very short window to pack and leave the country.
Of course, we’re also reminded that in September 2009, there were lots of speculation that the FSB was responsible for leaking a story and video of the sex tape purported to be of a US diplomat assigned at the US Embassy in Moscow. That one went on for seven weeks until then Ambassador Beyrle finally complained to the Foreign Ministry over what it says is an effort to smear a diplomat with a fabricated sex tape (see US Embassy Moscow Complains About Russian Sex Video).
So no sex tape this time but a couple of wigs, a compass (?), a recruitment letter that looks like spam and gmail!
Really, wigs are so 1980’s. Whoever wrote this script did not earn his/her pay. At least in FX’s The Amerikans, whenever the KGB agents had to go in disguise, they wear wigs. But you know, those wigs stay on whether those agents are on a knife fight or in a bed escapade. If those guys can keep their wigs on in a 1980’s show, surely our CIA agents if they have to wear a wig as a disguise, can do better than a blonde wig that gets dislodged when you’re wrestled to the ground? Plus whatever happened to Mission Impossible’s latex masks? Ugh!
Over in NYT: “Who uses a compass these days?” asked Mark Galeotti, a New York University professor who studies Russian security affairs. “This would be a phenomenal breach of tradecraft. This isn’t what they teach you at the CIA.”
What’s a compass?
NYMag posted the alleged written instruction found on Mr. Fogle but writes that there is “actually something pretty weird about this story. It’s the recruitment letter (translated here into English from its original Russian by news outlet RT):
This is how the CIA recruits spies? With a form letter that reads like something you’d find in your in-box courtesy of a Nigerian prince? See (see Apparently the CIA Recruits Russian Spies With a Spammy Form Letter).
Of course, the arrest also happened as the US Ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul was holding a live Q&A on Twitter. Coincidence or perfectly timed?
The AP on the video released by FSB: “The official, whose face is blurred, alleged that Fogle called an unidentified FSB counterintelligence officer who specializes in the Caucasus at 11:30 p.m. Monday. He then said that after the officer refused to meet, Fogle called him a second time and offered 100,000 euros if he would provide information to the U.S. The Russian official said the FSB was flabbergasted.”
Well, they should be. This sounds like awful theater.
In WashDC, State Department deputy spokesman Patrick Ventrell is reported to have said that the incident is unlikely to hamper U.S.-Russia relations.
And life goes on.
- US Diplomat Ordered to Leave Russia in Spy Case – ABC News (abcnews.go.com)
- Americans poke fun on social media over alleged spy arrest (vancouverdesi.com)
- Russia to expel US diplomat accused of spying (guardian.co.uk)
- Russia to expel ‘US CIA agent’ (bbc.co.uk)
- US diplomat ordered to leave Russia in spy case – Houston Chronicle (chron.com)