October 31st, 2011
10:50 AM ET

FBI releases Russian spy trove

By Senior National Security Producer Suzanne Kelly

They called it "Operation Ghost Stories", and judging by the trove of detailed information posted online by the FBI, it was an espionage investigation that could have occurred at the height of the Cold War.

The FBI investigated, and then arrested, 10 Russian spies last year in a case that captured the nation's attention. Now, in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the law enforcement agency is posting photographs, documents, and video clips of the suspects in secretly-taped meetings with undercover FBI agents.

The Russian Foreign Intelligence operatives (SVR) were suspected of trying to obtain classified documents (though the FBI says they never got any of them) and the FBI describes the operation as "well-funded" and "far-ranging".

One video details how Russian operative Christopher Metsos passed information to an official from the Russian Mission in New York in what's known in intelligence circles as a "brush pass."

The move is meant to like nothing more than a casual passing by to a person on the street (in this instance in a stairwell), but it is actually a method used to exchange information.

Another video shows Russian spy Anna Chapman, who has become a celebrity in Russia since being exposed, meeting in a New York coffee shop with an undercover FBI agent in 2010.

Another video shows how the Russian spies used cold war techniques like recovering packages from "dead drops", literally digging information that had been planted by their contacts, out of the ground.

The FBI information also details other techniques the operatives used, including something known in intelligence circles as "spotting and assessing", which was an operative's summation of whether friends or acquaintances may serve as espionage targets, as well as identifying and reporting other people whom they felt may hold positions of power or influence in the future.  Their ultimate mission, according to the FBI, was to gain influence over U.S. policy.

FBI agents watched the suspects for years as they lived what would appear to be normal, American lives.  It was a mission that was likely meant to last a lifetime.

"Our agents and analysts watched the deep-cover operatives as they established themselves in the U.S. (some by using stolen identities) and went about leading seemingly normal lives – getting married, buying homes, raising children, and assimilating into American society" reads the description on the FBI website.

All ten of the Russians pled guilty in federal court last year to conspiring to serve as unlawful agents of the Russian Federation, and were expelled to Russia in a swap for four Russian prisoners accused of spying for the U.S..

The FBI stressed that this was not an isolated case, attributing an unidentified FBI agent as saying "There are a lot of foreign services who want what we have, and that's why we have agents and analysts in FBI field offices across the country working with other intelligence community partners every day to address these threats."

soundoff (107 Responses)
  1. Tyesha Gajate

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    January 19, 2012 at 3:27 am | Reply
  5. Maxwell Smart

    Once more, the elements of goodness and niceness triumph over the evil of Kaos.

    November 2, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Reply
  6. little J

    Have you ever dreamed to be a SPY? http://octorama.com/desktop/display-1781

    November 1, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Reply
  7. gidget

    bet they got top level secrets like what dog so and so walks and what flavor starbucks in America is serving. Tough stuff those spies.

    November 1, 2011 at 8:39 am | Reply
  8. Chicagorich

    I can't believe we put out there what we recorded and saw, this will be gleaned for training material to be used by future spies on how to avoid being caught. It was released under the 'Freedom of Information Act', but yet you can't get copies of contracts issued by the city government to build stuff from my city. This makes little sense to me.

    October 31, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Reply
    • Matt

      When you don't understand something, such as the Freedom of Information Act, it might prove useful to use the resources in front of you (i.e. the internet) to do a little research and inform yourself. That or just post on about how you don't understand something.

      November 2, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Reply
  9. Sorbo

    I didn't realize Amanda Bynes was a Russian spy.

    October 31, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Reply
  10. scott

    im looking for work is anyone hiring

    October 31, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Reply
  11. Squirt

    I'd like to do unmentionable things to her...It would be truly criminal.

    October 31, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Reply
  12. mofo

    I'd let her sneak my private package into her country.

    October 31, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Reply
  13. Mr.Fabulous

    Damn, that woman is HOT

    October 31, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Reply
  14. ME

    Great, we used to shoot spies, now we idolize them? This country won't survive another major war.

    October 31, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Reply
  15. Mike

    ...as well as identifying and reporting other people whom they felt may hold positions of power or influence in the future..
    no, it's as well as identifying others people WHO they felt may hold positions.
    I am so, so, saddened to see the level of language degeneration and degradation in this country. If there's a reason because of which the russians are bound to win it is because they know the difference between kto and kogo, whereas americans use (misuse) the latter to make themselves sound important while unmasking their own weak-mindedness. Some form of this can be applied to the entire american empire.

    October 31, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Reply
  16. Edsr

    I vote we vote Anna Chapman in charge of the FBI! At least she is better looking than the director we have now!

    October 31, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Reply
  17. amac

    I would LOOOOVE to see Anna Chapman exposed. She makes the Cold War hot.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Reply
    • Edsr

      Me too! In fact I would looove to looove Anna Chapman!

      October 31, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Reply
    • Phoenix05

      Anna can spy on me all she wants!

      October 31, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Reply
    • brian

      go to egotastic.com and look for her name, she has been, twice, thankfully :)

      October 31, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Reply
  18. DefineFBI

    When I was in grade school, the FBI was defined as "Female Body Inspector".

    I hope to god this was the case with Anna.

    PS -> FBI field teams monitoring this CNN discussion, I've attached my resume'.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Reply
    • Edsr

      If Anna is involved you have to wait in line for that job buster!

      October 31, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Reply
    • Auth

      G'Day! Spy Equipment Eguide,On a similar note, If you'd like to make a lttlie extra money, maybe sell some of your spy equipment and buy some new gadgets, you might enjoy setting up an account on eBay and selling some of your collection of spy equipment. You can take this further and open a store if you like it, but for the moment, have you ever thought about selling some of your stuff?Catch you again soon!

      November 12, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Reply
  19. calripson

    If you want to be an agent of interest of a foreign power wihout risk, just join AIPAC ! If you get in trouble, Netanyahu can come before congress and berate the FBI and Justice Department and get 29 standing ovations !

    October 31, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Reply
    • Aki

      Ha! Good one. +1

      October 31, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Reply
  20. allanhowls

    Based on the lead picture, she's not a Russian spy...she's on an Enterprise away team.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Reply
    • tonelok

      If that were the case she should already be dead...

      October 31, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Reply
  21. Kevin

    I want to do very naughty things with her. Heard she was a freak too.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Reply
  22. IronRider

    Thats one hot russian spy...yummy. She can spy on me anytime!

    October 31, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Reply
    • panzerkom

      nah, her boobs are drooping

      October 31, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Reply
  23. Sean

    Eerily similar to the plot for the movie SALT with Angelina Jolie. And that movie came out right when this story broke too.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Reply
  24. IloveAnna

    Anna, I want to have hot nasty raunchy bareback sex with you and put it on video so I can make a great profit. Holler at me so we can do this. I'd love to give you a creampie.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Reply
    • Kevin

      Who doesn't?!

      October 31, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Reply
  25. kardiac

    "I went home with the waitress
    The way I always do
    How was I to know
    She was with the
    Russians, too?" Thanks Warren!

    October 31, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Reply
  26. SpyDooer

    She's probably slept with more men than Kim K

    October 31, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Reply
    • Kara

      In my country, we call these girls 'open road'

      October 31, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Reply
      • gofish

        I'd like to ride on that rode sometime.

        October 31, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  27. Kara

    LOL guys, you are desperate. Chapman was a very bad spy like the 9 other amateurs who did nothing for Russia but she is ugly, kinda looking like Peggy! You are attracted because you are excited by that spy story. No one wants to hear about her in Russia, she was booed and banned recently at the University in Moscow.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Reply
    • NB

      Dear Kara, you obviously know nothing about men.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Reply
      • NeedZ

        lolzzzzz.correct

        October 31, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • Kara

      Men love shrimps, they don't care of the face/head, as long as the body is good.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Reply
  28. NeedZ

    i want to investigate her....all alone ;)

    October 31, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Reply
  29. Shanti

    The meeting between Anna Chapman and the spy took place in a Starbucks (noticed the decal on the window). Starbucks should find away to incoporate this into their advertising tag-line, i.e., "Starbucks: Free Trade Coffee – And Free Trade of International Secrets." I dunno. ;)

    October 31, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Reply
  30. T3chsupport

    ALWAYS beware of hot Russians!

    October 31, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Reply
  31. Tank

    I am a Narnian spy, I have been gaining access to embassies worldwide, Aslan will be proud!

    October 31, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Reply
    • noway

      Don't ever have children.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Reply
  32. ohnooooo

    "and were expelled to Russia in a swap for four Russian prisoners accused of spying for the U.S" – thats it, why complain?

    October 31, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Reply
    • Rob

      10 guilty of spy for 4 suspected of spying......kinda fishy if you ask me.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Reply
      • ohnooooo

        thats the ver. from cnn. did u read the russian version?

        October 31, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  33. Submarine670

    Blows my mind how much this is like a book I read called Zhena.

    October 31, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Reply
  34. 46thPres

    Good spies do not get caught in FBI stings.
    I this doesnt make you wonder how many Iranians are already here, it should.

    October 31, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Reply
    • gofish

      I don't believe it would be to hard to spot an Iranian spy. This girl could pass for any the girl next door.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Reply
  35. Failed brush pass

    Those guys in video #1 are terrible "spies"

    October 31, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Reply
    • Archived

      Seriously! Worst.Brush pass.ever!

      October 31, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Reply
    • CG

      Right! Totally amateur! Seriously, who does an opposite arm pass like that? No wonder they were caught.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Reply
    • Shanti

      I agree! They need to go to a LA or Hollywood acting school for proper training. LOL!!!

      October 31, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Reply
  36. U.S.Army-OverLord

    Hottest Spy I've seen so far LOL ;)

    October 31, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Reply
    • Ryan

      No doubt, that chick is built.

      October 31, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Reply
    • JAKEDOG

      Yeah, she was a keeper for sure. silf.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Reply
  37. waycist

    I'd go under cover with her any time.

    October 31, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Reply
  38. fashionista

    I love her dress in this photo! Who is the designer, anyone know?

    October 31, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Reply
    • az

      KGB?

      October 31, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Reply
      • fashionista

        clever :)

        October 31, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • fashionista

      yer are just simple beyond belief.

      October 31, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Reply
      • Karla

        Posted on The new Zune browser is suiisrrpngly good, but not as good as the iPod's. It works well, but isn't as fast as Safari, and has a clunkier interface. If you occasionally plan on using the web browser that's not an issue, but if you're planning to browse the web alot from your PMP then the iPod's larger screen and better browser may be important.

        November 11, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • R. Glovan

      You probably can get that dress @ 'Cold-War' clothing.com! LOL!!!

      October 31, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Reply
    • Badly-Bent

      Kalishnikov!

      October 31, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Reply
    • Lookslike

      Looks like Professor X's work...

      October 31, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Reply
    • moosesquirrel

      Not sure about Anna and the Russians, but the designer for the Iranian spies is Donna Koran.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Reply
    • Gofish

      I don't know but she is the hottest thing I have seen from that country and any other for that fact. WOWWOWWOW!!!

      October 31, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Reply
  39. Edsr

    Anna Chapman is a GREAT looking spy! She is a stunner! James Bond type femme fatale!

    October 31, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Reply
    • moosesquirrel

      Absolutely, they should offer her a role in the next Bond flick. No security problem, the most she could probably steal is a semen sample from Daniel Craig.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Reply
  40. Be very afraid

    Russia continues to operate under a system of suspicion and repression. This is why, as a player on the world stage, they are as scary and untrustworthy as they were 30 years ago.

    October 31, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Reply
    • VT_Citizen

      Everything you just described can also be said of the good ole US of A.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Reply
      • Ken

        A spy is just another kind of soldier defending his/her affiliation. Whether or not they are an enemy depends on yours. Our spies are protecting our interests and are no different than any other soldier.

        October 31, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
      • nan

        so

        October 31, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • Howard

      @ Be Very Afraid ... you just described our allies, Britain and Israel, and Lord knows who else.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Reply
    • Duane

      We do the same to them, all part of the game

      October 31, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Reply
    • mark

      Blah blah blah, we do the very same things, so does China, you really think they are the only ones playing the game; you really think there are not US spies at the Moscow embassy not gaining contacts as we speak? don't be so naive.

      October 31, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Reply
  41. Paul

    Tell me what you want .. she is a hot chick, in the end that's all what matters. Give her a Green Card ... the US is better off having her here than in Russia. It helps making this country look a lot better ;-)

    October 31, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Reply
    • Paul

      I understand the view from your trailer may not be good, but please do not invite security risks into my home.

      October 31, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Reply
  42. Maximus

    we're still spying on each other?

    October 31, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Reply
    • VT_Citizen

      LOL. Sir we are still spying on England.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Reply
  43. Badly-Bent

    Nice rack!

    October 31, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Reply
  44. dadofthree

    My family are Irish spies that were planted here three generations ago. My current assignment is to monitor the flow of Guinness at pubs starting with letters A through R. My brother Shamus gets pubs S-Z. Other than that its regular day to day life.

    October 31, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Reply
  45. El Gaucho

    I am also a spy working undercover for the govt of Argentina, based out of Mendoza wine country. i can feel for these 10 russians bc they are doing the same thing i am. i also hope i dont get deported to where i came from ;)

    October 31, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Reply
    • NODAT1

      From Argintina? any German blood from the post WWII era in your family???????

      October 31, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Reply
    • Senorita Easylay

      Daniel, you just blew your cover... better head back home hombre

      October 31, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Reply
  46. John "Johnny mop" Price

    Anna Chapman used me to spy on America. She had sex with me several thousands of times and did anything i wanted in hopes of getting me to leak highly confidential information. I am the janitor at Area 51. I am so glad I was able to keep my pillow talk to minimum and not leak anything but my bodily fluids to her.

    October 31, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Reply
    • cocoloco

      You are gay, John! Don't try to "cover up" your coming out of the closet!

      October 31, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Reply
      • John "Johnny mop" Price

        Im not gay cocoloco, your wife keeps saying that. Just because I had sex with your wife in her @ss doesnt make me gay.

        October 31, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • inobetter

      IFor her, I'd sell my grandmother, mother, sister, cousins.....

      October 31, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Reply
  47. Mustaf Herod Apyur Poupr

    I too am a spy.

    October 31, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Reply
  48. HBAR

    I myself am a spy for the French West Indies, who really dreads being deported there. I sure hope no one traces my email address!

    October 31, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Reply
  49. us1776

    Spy v. Spy

    The stuff of good movies.

    .

    October 31, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Reply
    • zombie kid

      Hacks and amateurs....

      October 31, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Reply
    • us1776

      zombie kid, you think CIA and KGB were hacks and amateurs? What are you? 12 years old?

      October 31, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Reply

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