Suspected Russian spy found working in US embassy in Moscow

Clay Curtis
August 9, 2018

A suspected Russian spy has been found to have worked inside the US embassy in Moscow for over a decade, the Guardian newspaper reported.

The United States Secret Service has flatly rejected a report from British daily The Guardian that a Russian citizen working on the staff of the US Embassy in Moscow had any access to classified data, a spokesperson for the American intelligence service told TASS.

The woman did not come on the radar of the US Department of State's Regional Security Office (RSO) until 2016, the year of the US presidential elections that spawned a wide-ranging hunt for "Russian interference" by the media and intelligence circles amid claims Moscow attempted to "sow discord" in the American society and sway the vote in favor of Donald Trump.

The senior administration official told CNN that the regional security office alerted the embassy in January 2017 and that the woman was caught red-handed and fired in the summer of that year.

"We knew it was happening and it was just a process of playing it out and giving her specific information that we saw her give back to the FSB", the official said.

The Russian national had been hired by the US Secret Service and is understood to have had access to the agency's intranet and email systems, which gave her a potential window into highly confidential material including the schedules of the president and vice-president.

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The secret service issued a statement that "did not deny she was a mole, but downplayed her role" at the embassy, reports The Daily Telegraph. Instead, it made a decision to let her go quietly months later, possibly to contain any potential embarrassment.

"This is of particular emphasis in Russian Federation".

"It was specifically the duties of the FSN position in Moscow to assist our attaches and agency by engaging the Russian government, including the Russian Federal Security Service, the Russian Ministry of the Interior, and the Russian Federal Protective Service in furtherance of Secret Service interests".

Russian policemen stand guard in front of the US Embassy in Moscow on December 30, 2016.

The Russian was suspected of espionage division staff of the USA state Department, which handles security at US diplomatic missions.

The State Department also acknowledged the risk of foreign governments trying to recruit its employees overseas and said it screens applicants and employees carefully as a result. Punitive action, however, was not taken as the matter was being probed.

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