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Monday, June 28, 2010

Russian Spies Nabbed

This story appears straight out of a Tom Clancy novel.

The FBI has arrested 10 people for allegedly serving for years as secret agents of Russia's intelligence organ, the SVR, with the goal of penetrating U.S. government policymaking circles.

According to court papers unsealed Monday, the FBI intercepted a message from SVR headquarters, Moscow Center, to two of the defendants describing their main mission as "to search and develop ties in policymaking circles in US." Intercepted messages showed they were asked to learn about a broad swath of topics including nuclear weapons, U.S. arms control positions, Iran, White House rumors, CIA leadership turnover, the last presidential election, the Congress and political parties.

After a secret multiyear investigation, the Justice Department announced the arrests Monday in a blockbuster spy case that could rival the capture of Soviet Col. Rudolf Abel in 1957 in New York.

More coverage here.

UPDATE: This story only gets juicier.

A ring of 11 Russian moles right out of a Cold War spy novel was smashed Monday — and among those busted was a flame-haired, 007-worthy beauty who flitted from high-profile parties to top-secret meetings around Manhattan.

Russian national Anna Chapman — a 28-year-old divorcee with a masters in economics

, an online real-estate business, a fancy Financial District apartment and a Victoria’s Secret body — had been passing information to a Russian government official every Wednesday since January, authorities charged.

In one particularly slick spy exchange on St. Patrick’s Day, Chapman pulled a laptop out of a tote bag in a bookstore at Warren and Greenwich streets in the West Village while her handler lurked outside, receiving her message on his own computer, the feds said. A similar exchange occurred at a Midtown coffee shop at 47th Street and 8th Ave.

The State Department and the Russians have given statements on the state of US/Russia relations in the aftermath of this development.

"to make a public statement in the spirit of the spy novel intrigues of the Cold War era" and noted that "these kinds of incidents have occurred in the past when our relations were on the rise."

"Such actions are ungrounded and pursue improper goals," the ministry said in a statement. "In any case, it is regrettable that all this is happening against the background of the 'reset' in Russian-American relations announced by the U.S. administration."


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