The FBI has announced that it arrested 11 Russian spies that have been under deep cover for decades, living seemingly normal lives while secretly sending information to Russia. The spies all lived what seemed to be ordinary lives, and even got married together and had kids as part of their cover.
For years, the feds knew about the spies and bugged their houses and phones, read their mail and e-mail, attached GPS trackers to their cars and tailed them everywhere they went.
As early as 2000, the accused spies were watched meeting on benches in Central Park and Brooklyn, exchanging computer files wirelessly in a Times Square Starbucks, smoothly switching bags in the Forest Hills, Queens, Long Island Rail Road stations, and burying money in the ground upstate.
“The evidence here is overwhelming. It is simple. It is strong,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Farbiarz at a hearing in Manhattan.
The federal complaint says “Moscow Center” trained the spies in various ways of secret communication and then sent them here “to become sufficiently Americanized to gather information for Russia.”
“Excuse me, but did we meet in Bangkok in April last year?” was a code phrase they used to identify one another.
However, the complaint said the accused spies were asked to supply the kind of information anyone with a functioning knowledge of Google could have delivered, such as the U.S. position on Iran’s nuclear program, or what goals President Obama hoped to achieve at a Moscow summit last year.
No information of a really damaging nature was passed on, though one of the alleged spies met with a former government employee who had some knowledge of nuclear weapons research.
As decades went by, the U.S. government was secretly keeping tabs on the spies, until last week, when the government’s cover was blown.
The cover was blown when an undercover FBI agent enlisted Anna Chapman, a 28 year old spy, to deliver a fake passport to another undercover agent. Chapman, who lived in a luxury Financial District apartment in Manhattan and ran a $2 million online real-estate business, got suspicious of the FBI agent and tried to contact her source by buying a cell phone under the name Irine Kustov of 99 Fake Street.
This is when the FBI figured out she was on to them and immediately began rounding up the rest of suspected Russian spies.
Chapman was arrested, and could face up to five years in prison if convicted of acting as unregistered foreign agent, while the rest of the spies face far more serious money-laundering charges. Aside from cutting off the communication of the spies, another reason for all the arrests was to cause panic in the Russian spy services, an official in Washington said.
(Via DNA Info)