Russia has ordered the expulsion of an alleged CIA agent working undercover at the US embassy who was discovered with a large stash of money trying to recruit a Russian agent, officials said on Tuesday.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) identified the man as Ryan Fogle, the third secretary of the political section of Washington’s embassy in Moscow, and said he had been handed back to the embassy after his detention.

The foreign ministry said it was summoning US ambassador Michael McFaul on Wednesday for an explanation and slammed Washington for what it described as “provocative acts in the spirit of the Cold War.”

Photographs published by the state English-language broadcaster RT showed a baseball-capped Fogle being held to the ground face down and having his hands put behind his back for the arrest.

He was then shown being questioned at the Federal Security Service while documents such as his passport and a stack of 500-euro notes along with some letters were displayed.

The FSB footage also displayed supposed espionage equipment including wigs, a torch, compass and even a mundane atlas of Moscow as well as a somewhat old-fashioned mobile phone.

The FSB said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies that Fogle was carrying “special technical equipment, written instructions for recruiting a Russian citizen, a large sum of money and means for changing a person’s appearance.”

‘We did not believe this’

In a video that RT said was provided by the FSB, Fogle is seen sitting down as a man, presumably a Russian security officer, tells the suspect about his alleged crime.

He is then accused of offering $100,000 for espionage to a security service employee who is involved in counterinsurgency work in the Russian North Caucasus.

“We did not believe this at first, because as you know the FSB has been actively helping the investigation of the Boston blasts,” the officer says as Fogle and three men silently listen with arms crossed.

The incident comes amid a new downturn in Russian-US relations sparked by the Syrian crisis and concern in Washington over what it sees as president Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on all dissent.

The last major spy row between the two former Cold War rivals involved the glamourous Anna Chapman and 10 other Russian spies arrested in the United States in 2010.

The spy scandal, which ended with their swap for four Russians convicted of spying for the West, was a huge embarrassment for Russia’s foreign intelligence at the time.

The FSB and Russia’s tightly-controlled state media appeared intent Tuesday on showing to the public that the man it had caught was a real agent who posed a danger to Russia’s interests.

The photos published by RT also showed a document entitled “printed instructions for the Russian citizen being recruited.”

Analysts said the fact that the case received such media attention means that senior Russian leaders had decided to use the arrest to make a political point to Washington.

Some such cases are often handled quietly and tit-for-tat expulsions are sometimes only made public once completed.

 
Source:
AFP
 
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