A U.S. diplomat was ordered Tuesday to leave the country after the Kremlin’s security services said he tried to recruit a Russian agent, and they displayed trade-craft tools that seemed straight from a cheap spy thriller: wigs, packets of cash, a knife, map and compass and a letter promising millions for “long-term cooperation.”
The FSB, the successor agency to the Soviet-era KGB, identified the diplomat as Ryan Fogle, a third secretary at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, detaining him briefly overnight.
It alleged Fogle was a CIA officer trying to recruit a Russian counterterrorism officer who specializes in the volatile Caucasus region in southern Russia, where the two Boston Marathon bombing suspects had their ethnic roots.
Fogle was handed over to U.S. Embassy officials, declared persona non grata and ordered to leave Russia immediately. He has diplomatic immunity, which protects him from arrest.
The State Department would confirm only that Fogle worked as an embassy employee, but wouldn’t give any details about his employment record or responsibilities in Russia. Some officials also referred inquiries to the CIA, which declined to comment.
Fogle was the first American diplomat to be publicly accused of spying in Russia in about a decade. While relations between the two countries have been strained, officials in both Washington and Moscow sought to play down the incident.
The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul to appear today in connection with the case. McFaul said he would not comment on the spying allegation.
Russian officials expressed indignation the U.S. would carry out an espionage operation at a time when the two countries have been working to improve counterterrorism cooperation. “Such provocative actions in the spirit of the Cold War do nothing to strengthen mutual trust,” the Foreign Ministry said.