10 charged as Russian secret agents
Ten people, including three from Virginia, have been arrested for allegedly serving as secret agents of the Russian government with the goal of penetrating U.S. government policymaking circles.
The Justice Department announced the arrests Monday. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office says the three individuals from Virginia made their initial appearance early Monday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. The hearing was closed because at that point the case had not yet been unsealed in New York.
According to court papers in the case, the U.S. government intercepted a message from Russian intelligence headquarters in Moscow to two of the defendants.
The message states that their main mission is “to search and develop ties in policymaking circles in US” and send intelligence reports.
The court papers cited numerous examples of communications intercepted by U.S. investigators that spelled out what the 10 allegedly were trying to do.
One message back to Moscow from the defendants focused on turnover at the top level of the CIA and the 2008 U.S. presidential election.
The information was described as having been received in private conversation with, among others, a former legislative counsel for Congress. The court papers deleted the name of the counsel.
Another intercepted message said one of the defendants living in New Jersey, known as Cynthia Murphy, “had several work-related personal meetings with” a man the court papers describe as a prominent New York-based financier who was active in politics.
In response, intelligence headquarters in Moscow described the man as a very interesting target and urged the defendants to “try to build up little by little relations. ... Maybe he can provide” Murphy “with remarks re US foreign policy, ‘roumors’ about White house internal ‘kitchen,’ invite her to venues (to major political party HQ in NYC, for instance. ... In short, consider carefully all options in regard” to the financier.” The court papers described the defendants communicating with purported Russian agents using a method not previously described in espionage cases here: by establishing a short-range wireless network between laptop computers of the agents and sending encrypted messages between the computers while they were near each other.
The papers also said that on Saturday an undercover FBI agent in New York and another in Washington, both posing as Russian agents, met with two of the defendants, Anna Chapman at a New York restaurant and Mikhail Semenko on a Washington street corner blocks from the White House.
-- Associated Press
Posted by: MacDonald1 | June 28, 2010 8:54 PM | Report abuse
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