Russia’s security services openly named the US intelligence agency’s alleged Moscow station chief on Friday in a rare breach of protocol after arresting a purported CIA agent working undercover.
Russia announced this week that it had caught alleged agent Ryan Fogle as he prepared to recruit a member of the Russian security forces focused on anti-terrorism efforts in Russia’s North Caucasus. Footage was aired showing him wearing a blond wig and his array of spying equipment, including a map and compass, an old mobile phone and a poorly written recruitment letter.
An unnamed representative of the FSB security services told the Interfax news agency that in 2011, the agency had “officially warned” the CIA station chief in Moscow over what it called “provocative recruiting moves towards Russian security services officers,” and threatened “reciprocal measures towards CIA officers.”
The report gave the full name of the alleged CIA chief of station in Moscow, but it was unclear if the same person still held the post.
persona non grata
It also named another alleged CIA agent who had worked at the US embassy in Moscow, saying that he had also been declared persona non grata, like Fogle, and left in January after he carried out a “similar action.”
US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that she had not seen the reports on the outing of the CIA Moscow chief, and also refused to say whether Fogle had now left Russia.
However, she insisted that Washington and Moscow had worked “closely together” on various issues over the years.
“We still feel that we have a very positive relationship, and one that we can continue to work together on areas where we agree,” Psaki told reporters.
“There are still areas, of course, where we disagree, but I’m not going to weigh in further on the impact here,” she said.
Kremlin-funded television channel RT cited on its Web site an FSB operative as saying that “in the case with Fogle, the CIA crossed a red line and we had no choice but to react observing official procedures.”
The FSB agent told RT that the Russian security agency held a 2011 meeting with the CIA chief of station in Moscow. RT also named the station chief, although it gave a slightly different surname than Interfax.
“We decided to warn our American colleagues and ask them to stop these activities,” the FSB agent told RT.
An FSB agent interviewed by Russian state television on Wednesday with his voice distorted and his face concealed said Russia knew Fogle was from the CIA when he arrived in spring 2011 and immediately put him under surveillance.