Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Russian Spy Ring Busted, 10 Arrested In US

A Russian spy ring that has operated in the United States for the better part of the last seven years was busted yesterday. 10 were arrested in and around the United States, and a 11th person was arrested in Cyprus, although the Russian government denies the charges.

The spies, four couples and three other individuals lived in places like Montclair, New Jersey, and completely blended in. Their neighbors were blindsided by the accusations.

The FBI alleges that the accused spies carried out their spycraft of passing messages and other information in public places - transit stations, coffee shops, etc.

Among those arrested was Anna Chapman, who could have been straight of of central casting for a James Bond flick. She had a Master's degree and a model's physique all while passing along messages to her handlers every Wednesday.
The undercover instructed her on how she would recognize her fellow spy and how to report back on the handoff, the feds said.

"Haven’t we met in California last summer?" the spy expecting the fake passport was supposed to say. Chapman was to respond, "No, I think it was the Hamptons," according to the FBI.

Chapman allegedly was also supposed to hold a magazine under her arm so her counterpart would recognize her, and plant a stamp on a wall map indicate the handoff was a success.

It never took place.

Another spy-movie-like maneuver took place in Brooklyn shortly after the meeting with the undercover agent when Chapman darted into a Verizon phone store to buy a cell using the name Irine Kutsov, and an address of "99 Fake Street," the feds said. She only planned to use the phone to "avoid detection of her conversations," the FBI alleged.

At her arraignment last night, she was held without bail as federal prosecutor Michael Farbiarz called her a "highly trained agent" and a "practiced deceiver."
Their goal was to infiltrate US policy circles and financial institutions.
In 2009, for instance, the foreign intelligence service in Moscow, or S.V.R, asked the Murphys to learn details of the White House’s latest position on an arms-reduction treaty, Afghanistan and Iran’s nuclear program to prepare for President Obama’s pending visit to Russia, authorities said.

"Try to outline their views and most important Obama’s goals which he expects to achieve during summit in July and how does his team plan to do it," Moscow ordered, according to the documents.
The full text of the complaints are here.

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