May 14th, 2013
08:15 PM ET

Russia calls 'spy' case provocation, but Boston fallout could be factor

By Jill Dougherty

Moscow claims an American diplomat tried to recruit a spy for the United States, calling it a "Cold War" provocation. But the timing may indicate the allegation could be linked to fallout over Russian information-sharing about a Boston Marathon bombing suspect.

Russia said Tuesday that Ryan Christopher Fogle, a political officer at the U.S. Embassy, was caught trying to recruit a Russian intelligence officer.

He was shown in videos and still photos released by the Russian security service, FSB, that got wide play in Russian media and brimmed with the stuff of spy novels.

In one video, Fogle is shown face down on the street and then is hustled into a car and driven away.

Fogle then enters a room and passes a table displaying his "spy arsenal" - wigs, recording devices, what appears to be a stack of Euros, a knife, and plastic bags with documents.

The Russian Foreign Ministry warned that the incident not only exposed "a foreign agent who was caught red-handed" but also raised "serious questions" for the United States.

"While the presidents of our countries reaffirmed their readiness to expand bilateral cooperation, including the cooperation of intelligence agencies in fighting international terrorism, such provocative actions in the spirit of the 'Cold War' do not contribute to building mutual trust," the ministry said.

It summoned U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul but the embassy made no public comment.

The CIA also refused to comment.

State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell was tight-lipped.

"We can confirm that an officer at the U.S. embassy in Moscow was briefly detained, and was released," he said.

Fogle's case comes at a delicate time as Russian and U.S. intelligence services have been cooperating in the investigation of the April 15 marathon bombing that killed three people and injured more than 260 others.

Moscow provided the first intelligence information to the United States about one of the suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, before he visited Russia last year. But recently, Russian authorities have been criticized for not telling the United States all it knew.

Now, the FSB could be retaliating for that criticism.

In the YouTube video released by RT television, an FSB official says the officer Fogle allegedly sought to recruit was "involved in fighting terrorism in the Northern Caucasus" which is the part of Russia where Moscow claims Tamerlan Tsarnaev - who died days after the attack - met with Islamic extremists.

Also in the YouTube video, the FSB officer angrily tells Fogle: "At first we didn't believe that this could happen. Because you know perfectly well that recently, the FSB is actively helping in the investigation of the bombing in Boston, and on other information that presents a threat to the security of the United States of America."

Raising his voice and gesturing, the officer recalls the recent visit of FBI Director Robert Mueller to Moscow and conversations between Presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama, who he notes have tried to improve cooperation between the United States and Russia.

"We think, under today's conditions, when our countries are reaching a new level of relations, when the presidents of these two countries are trying to improve the climate of mutual understanding between the two governments, this citizen - in the name of the U.S. government - commits the most serious crime here in Moscow," he says.

soundoff (59 Responses)
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    July 7, 2013 at 4:03 pm | Reply
  2. dupperbob

    Another example of the government shipping jobs overseas.

    May 20, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Reply
  3. kommy

    Interesting coincidence, a day after Fogl departure there are two incidents related to Caucasus. Including use of highly sophisticated protected channel radio-toy.

    May 20, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Reply
  4. Bill

    I think it may be kind of hard to pretend your offended when your last spy is doing modeling events worldwide.

    May 20, 2013 at 7:26 am | Reply
  5. Bob

    Come on Russia, stop acting like this is something unheard of. You have spies here, we have spies there, everyone knows it . We just arrested and sent back *10* of your spies just a couple of years ago..lol

    May 19, 2013 at 10:25 am | Reply
  6. Canada Home Security Systems

    Access Control System is needy appliances now a day...I recommended this.

    May 18, 2013 at 6:35 am | Reply
    • Whitehawk

      This sounds so similar to past actions by the Russians. They screw up, get called on it, then feel the need for payback to anyone noticing their errors so they play childish games. It's never been a face-saving thing, it's a bully response.

      May 19, 2013 at 9:05 am | Reply
  7. jerrylax

    reminds me of the mess our intel community was during the clinton years....we need adult leadership. The Russians are laughing at us. And there is obama standing in the rain with a US Marine holding and umbrella over him trying to spin our improved relations with Turkey...while being pelted with questions about his mess of an administration....the Turk looked like he couldn't believe his eyes and ears...humiliating and again under reported!

    May 17, 2013 at 4:57 pm | Reply
    • Pete

      @jerrylax,like the Bush administration doing nothing with the intel from the out going Clinton administration about terrorists targeting certain American cities and all it did was make the waste paper basket..Just explain to me how republicans responsible for 9/11 could have done worse than they've already have done because its pretty clear your partys full of screwups something you'll ignorently lie for as well won't yah jerry!!

      May 18, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Reply
  8. Matt

    The WH and the Hill were told the Boston investigation was going to take sometime. No doubt there is a lot of pressure for answers and results. A 6 month op cannot be done in a month. At best if everything goes well 4 months. The powers that be don't seem to understand what, take sometime actually means. Send them a dictionary.

    May 17, 2013 at 11:13 am | Reply
  9. ALEX

    As Russian american I am offended that insted of saing thank you Russia, the original state sponsors of terrorizm are attempting to put Russia in anegative light. The US spy was cot at a time when Putin and Cary met and there is no denile what hedid was crimnal and stupid. Why not condam CIA for it and not Russia?

    May 17, 2013 at 1:00 am | Reply
    • George Patton-2

      The answer ALEX, is that the right-wing thugs in Washington never want to admit when they are wrong, although in the majority of cases, they are! They are just too arrogant, self righteous and power hungry to do so!!!

      May 17, 2013 at 8:32 am | Reply
    • jfairweather

      Spies, regardless of the countries they work for and in which countries they operate, exist, which means that they are guilty of spying, whether or not they are caught. If they are caught, they are executed, imprisoned or expelled.

      This case is no different, other than it being sensationalized. If the US decided to (or not to) stir up the press when they catch a Russian spy, is a strategic decision. The same can be said for Russia. In this case they believe that it is strategically important to sensationalize it. Both countries spy on each other. That is an absolute fact. That also means that both countries are guilty of a "betrayal of trust". For Russia to try to stir things up in this case is hypocritical and opportunistic. They are just as guilty as the U.S.

      May 19, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Reply
  10. lottie

    you really believe that this guy in the goofy wig is a spy??? MOre like a cross dresser caught on tape.

    May 16, 2013 at 11:24 am | Reply
    • St.Louie

      Yeah right / look out James Bond, there's a new sheriff in town, 1986 wig and all / alert Q Section.They've probably got Rosa Klebb on the case already.

      May 18, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Reply
  11. Portland tony

    This stuff is not even worthy.of a headline. No country can run an effective foreign policy without knowing what the "other guy" is thinking. That's what embassies and their staffs do!

    May 15, 2013 at 8:07 pm | Reply
  12. kommy

    Tsarnajev was a sleeper, but of a different kind. He was supposed to go to Russia to do things, but the funny stuff that Russians knew about him even before he became toxic, so they asked FBI: Seriously?

    The answer was "not your problem". How come Russians knew about his development even before FBI knew?
    If you answer this question you'll know the roots of homegrown wannabees.

    May 15, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Reply
    • Alex279

      How did Russian FSB knew about Tsarnayev before FBI?

      This is easy to answer: William Plotnikov (a canadian friend of Tsarnayev) was detained by FSB in Dagestan in 2011 and told them about Tsarnayev. The reason why Plotnikov was detained is because he run away from home in Canada and his father inquired to Russian authorities to find him, as he believed that his son traveled to Russia. Plotnikov, while not committing any crime on his own, was known to hand around in a very bad company of Islamic extremists in Dagestan, and ended up being killed among 8 others during a shootout with FSB in July 2012. [It is not clear what Plotnikov role wasin is; it is very possible that he was there just to enjoy adrenaline of being among the tough guys (or wise guys). They/he refused to surrender and their apartment was stormed by FSB spetsnaz resulting in all got killed. FSB lost one on their own during the shoot out].

      May 15, 2013 at 4:04 pm | Reply
    • Alex279

      It is also very likely that FSB scared hell out of Tsarnayev, because he fled Russia on July 16, 2012 just two days after Plotnikov was killed.

      May 15, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Reply
  13. Dono40

    What about their sleeper cell we just uncovered? How many more are there?

    They will never admit, and we will never trust completely. And this just proves we aren't any better.

    That is just how it is done. Not that there are no other ways to do it. Like just get along.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Reply
    • BigShiz

      You think it dosnt work the other way around?

      May 15, 2013 at 5:03 pm | Reply
  14. BigShiz

    Those ivy league idiots are horrible field agents.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Reply
  15. Alex279

    I am sorry to say it, Jill Dougherty, but Boston bombing is completely irrelevant for this. You just made it up.

    May 15, 2013 at 12:10 pm | Reply
    • George Patton-2

      Jill Dougherty is only trying to be politically correct just like the rest of the right-wing news media, Alex279. Of course none of this has anything to do with the Boston bombing.

      May 15, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Reply
  16. John Geheran

    There is absolutely nothing new in this case. The U.S. has been spying on Russia since WW2 after the creation of the C.I.A. I wonder just how of our military technology came from Russia this way. I bet that it was quite a bit!

    May 15, 2013 at 2:33 am | Reply
    • Mikey

      Actually John, virtuaslly non of it came from Russia. Most of what the Russiand had, they stole from us.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:48 am | Reply
      • Sunandan Kaul

        True. Hardly nothing came from Russia. But a lot of what you guys had(particularly the rockets and missile that were the pride and joy of America) in the 50s and 60s was courtesy of the German Nazi scientist that were conveniently pardoned.

        I just completed reading an article on a certain Operation Paperclip. Quite a lot of efforts was put by you guys to bring in Nazis responsible for destroying London with V2 rockets and killing thousands on POWs.
        Bravo bravo.

        May 15, 2013 at 5:55 am |
      • goon

        Hi Mikey.

        Please be specific. What military technology did Russia and the Soviet Union have that was stolen from the United States? (Beyond their atom bomb, which would have been ready sooner if Stalin had not wanted a copy)

        The Yak-141 was stolen from the Russians and developed into the JSF program during the 1990s. And the US used to say that supercavitating torpedoes were impossible until Edmond Pope tried to steal designs of them. So far, the US has been unable to develop its own and Russia still has the fastest torpedoes.

        May 15, 2013 at 10:44 am |
      • George Patton-2

        Quite true Sunandan, quite true. Without these German scientists. we'd be very far behind the Russians in almost every field today!!! On the other hand, the American military tried awfully hard to capture a Russian built MIG-15 during the Korean war(1950-1953) but without any success.

        May 15, 2013 at 11:47 am |
      • George Patton-2

        Good grief Mikey, you sound like another ignorant Tea Partier spewing out more right-wing, cold war, anti-Russian propaganda. Anyone today with a 10th grade education would know better than that!!!

        May 15, 2013 at 11:53 am |
      • Mikey

        Well, since I lice and work in Moscow, I see first hand that you don't know squat about Russia.

        May 16, 2013 at 12:26 am |
      • Pete

        @Sunandan Kaul,Wernor Von Braun a noted German scientist was made an American citizen for crossing over to help develope missiles and was the father of our first space flight in creating NASA!!

        May 18, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • George Patton-2

      nothing new, they spy on us, we spy on them; I bet our bets allies spy on us and we spy on them. But the worst are muslim spies (sleeper cells); they steal our technologies including remote controlled toys, and make bombs out of them.

      May 15, 2013 at 10:32 am | Reply
      • George Patton-2

        Sorry folks, I never posted the above. Some Tea Partying nitwit is trying to make me look as dumb as he is, so please ignore it!

        May 16, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
      • George Patton-2

        my apology folks, I goofed up again, I have too many IDs; some time I am supposed to be posting for and sometime against under different ID, and sometime I forget to switch my ID, so my posts are getting confused, I am George Patton-2, and I am for sending sleeper cells to GITMO. And Guards at GITMO should spit back at those terrorist prisoners.

        May 16, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • Bobby

      On average ..not so much came from the USSR...except for one big piece of technology...radar stealth...some Russian Physicist published a paper on Maxwell's equations with respect to radio waves and how they can be refracted or absorbed using special materials. However no espionage was needed...it was openly published in a Russian physics periodical.

      May 15, 2013 at 11:08 pm | Reply
      • steve

        curious – do you know the reference of this periodical (Journal, vol, pg #) I want to read

        May 16, 2013 at 9:14 am |
  17. Fghuk Hdhuk

    So let me get this straight Putin is saying you cannot disprove a negative. I do not see how a cross dressing apple knife carrying hey where do I put this papperwork other than a plastic bag deal in cash political wana-be is somehow dangerious to Putin...do you? I thought Putin was large and in charge so to speak. Hey, what ever happened to that red-headed striper wana-be ex- KGB daughter that the US care- packaged back to Mother Russia with five other of her coffie house bum cohorts?

    May 14, 2013 at 11:53 pm | Reply
    • USMC1371

      She is still counting the money she made off the photos

      May 15, 2013 at 6:50 am | Reply
      • Alex279

        She is even making new photos.... + a lucrative job of sitting on a board of directors in a Bank + membership in United Russia Party.

        May 15, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
  18. Matt

    Generally you use illegals for that a compartmentalized cell. A member of the cell makes an approach or blackmail. You wait to see if the asset reports it, then you leak a barium meal to see if it gets spat out. If secure you use the asset. Dead drops with a USB using two illegals each does not know each other from the asset. That is three layers removed, two from the asset. It is slow but secure you take what is on the USB and leave messages and communicate on another USB. Speak in code and use encryption. That allows you to conduct three leaves of surveillance before you make the last dead drop of the cell if the asset or the cell is under surveillance you will know. And you sent up a swiss bank account for the asset.

    May 14, 2013 at 10:07 pm | Reply
    • Alexander

      Very safe, but I would abstain from Swiss, Liechtenstein instead plus Macao for contingency. Not sure why that bozo went backwards ,almost rogue , direct emai?! Wigs, sunglasses, knife... almost seems like he is double agent that was recruited by FSB to get busted pending Syria talk to gain extra leverage.

      May 16, 2013 at 1:07 am | Reply

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