Russia detains 'CIA agent' in echo of Cold War spy games

US diplomat Ryan Christopher Fogle accused to trying to recruit Russian agent

Russia has expelled a US diplomat whom it accuses of being an undercover CIA agent who tried to recruit a member of Moscow’s security services, potentially undermining efforts to improve fractious relations between the two states.

"On the night of May 13th to 14th, a staff employee of the CIA, Ryan Christopher Fogle. was detained by counter-espionage organs of the Russian FSB while attempting to recruit an employee of one of the Russian special services," the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said in a statement.

“Recently American intelligence has made multiple attempts to recruit employees of Russian law enforcement organs and special agencies.”

The FSB said it detained Mr Fogle, whose official position in Moscow was third secretary at the US embassy, with a letter giving detailed instructions to his Russian target of how to contact his prospective US "handlers" and promising payment of up to $1 million (€772,000) a year.

Blond wig
Russian state television showed a man identified as Mr Fogle, wearing a blond wig and baseball cap, being handcuffed while lying on the ground.


Later, he is shown being led into FSB offices where the supposed contents of his rucksack are laid out on a table. They include a second wig, sunglasses, a compass, a map of Moscow, two knives, a notepad, a microphone and a wad of €500 notes.

Fogle sits at a table and several Russian men stand around the office as another Russian, whose face is pixellated, says the American called an unidentified counter-terrorism officer working in the volatile North Caucasus region and offered him $100,000 “to spy for the United States”.

The man with the obscured face says he “could not believe this was happening” because “the FSB has been actively helping the investigation into the Boston bombings and with other information that threatens the safety of the United States”.

The Tsarnaev brothers, who are suspected of the Boston bombings, hail from the North Caucasus, and investigators are studying what role – if any – the region’s Islamic militants had in inspiring the attack.

The letter Mr Fogle was allegedly carrying is addressed to "Dear Friend" and claims to be from someone "who is very impressed by your professionalism and who would greatly value working together with you in the future".

Gmail account
The letter asks its intended recipient to open a new Gmail account and "send an email to" and check for a reply one week later. It offers him $100,000 to "discuss your experience, expertise and co-operation" and "up to $1,000,000 a year" for "long-term co-operation" with bonuses for particularly useful information.

Russia’s foreign ministry said “such provocative actions in the spirit of the cold war do nothing to strengthen mutual trust”, and summoned US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.

As well as seeking Moscow’s help in the Boston bombings case, the US wants Russian assistance on issues including Syria, Iran and North Korea.