Saturday, August 27, 2016


Ex-Soviet Intelligence Officer Calls CIA Spy Case 'Badly Staged Comedy'

A man in Moscow looks at a computer screen displaying a photo published by the Russian state English-language RT website, which shows Ryan Christopher Fogle being detained by the Federal Security Service in Moscow.
A man in Moscow looks at a computer screen displaying a photo published by the Russian state English-language RT website, which shows Ryan Christopher Fogle being detained by the Federal Security Service in Moscow.
Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) announced on May 14 that it had detained a U.S. diplomat in Moscow for allegedly trying to recruit a Russian counterterrorism officer. The incident is one of the strangest spy scandals involving Russia in recent memory. But Boris Volodarsky, a veteran of Russia's GRU military intelligence service now based in London, believes the case was entirely fabricated. He spoke to RFE/RL’s Claire Bigg.

RFE/RL: The FSB says U.S. Embassy employee Ryan Christopher Fogle was detained while trying to meet a potential recruit. Russian television aired footage of Fogle being detained while reportedly wearing a blonde wig and carrying a map of Moscow, a compass, a knife, and large amounts of cash. The circumstances of Fogle’s arrest and the rather primitive equipment he was allegedly using have raised eyebrows. Is the FSB’s account plausible?

Boris Volodarsky: No expert can believe that this happened in reality. Nowadays, operations are conducted in a totally different manner. There is a huge cover, lengthy preparations, and a lot of technology -- not the primitive things that were used in this case. It looked like a badly staged comedy from the 1970s...

To begin with, the recruitments are not done like this, and they are never carried out in Moscow. It all happens abroad. Secondly, the gadgets that were allegedly found on Mr. Fogle have not been used in espionage for 30 or 50 years.

COINCIDENCE? Russian Spy Case Derails McFaul's Twitter Outreach

RFE/RL: Fogle was also allegedly carrying a letter offering his target $100,000 for a first meeting and $1 million annually for cooperation. Are such large sums in line with fees offered to Russian spies?

Volodarsky: I know the budgets. This is entirely impossible. First of all, a recruiter would never come to a meeting with a target carrying anything compromising; he would never have sums of money with him; he would never have this stupid letter spelling out all the details; he would never have things like a torch (a flashlight), a map of Moscow, wigs, or black glasses. One million dollars is a possible sum to offer to a defector or to a very important source, but that would be after a long period of cooperation. And $100,000 would never be given in cash, it would be transferred to a numbered account in Switzerland or elsewhere.

PHOTO GALLERY: The mysterious case of Ryan Christopher Fogle
  • A man identified as Ryan C. Fogle lies on the ground during his detention in this handout photograph released by the press service of Russia's Federal Security Service.
  • A man identified as Ryan C. Fogle is shown in custody in this handout photograph released by the press service of the Russian Federal Security Service.
  • A man identified as Ryan C. Fogle sits in the receiving office of the Russian Federal Security Service in Moscow in this photograph released by the service's press office. He is surrounded by U.S. officials.
  • An ID card of U.S. Embassy employee Ryan Christopher Fogle in a photo released by the Federal Security Service.
  • An ID card of U.S. Embassy employee Ryan Christopher Fogle in a photo released by the Federal Security Service.
  • A man looks at a computer screen displaying belongings described as being owned by Ryan C. Fogle in a photo released by the Russian Federal Security Service. The items included two wigs, a compass, a Moscow map, a small knife, and stacks of euro banknotes.
  • The headquarters of the Federal Security Service in central Moscow
  • U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul leaves the Foreign Ministry in Moscow on May 15.

RFE/RL: Nonetheless, Fogle was shown being detained while wearing a wig. If he was never a spy, then how were Russian authorities able to orchestrate such a stunt?

Volodarsky: In my opinion, there are only two logical explanations. Mr. Fogle was probably a member of the CIA, but I think he was either recruited by the Russians under whatever circumstances or he was compromised, maybe with a honey trap. I have no other explanation. But I don’t think that he was recruited by the Russians. This would have been extremely risky. I think he was conned; they compromised him in some way.

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RFE/RL: News of Fogle's detention came just as Michael McFaul, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, began a Q&A session on Twitter. Could this be a coincidence?

Volodarsky: It is quite possible. But I think it is not that important whether or not it was tied to Mr. McFaul's Twitter conference. It was an operation to support Mr. Putin's policies and the latest moves by the Russian government and the Kremlin administration. I am talking about the "foreign agent" law, the alleged financing of the Russian opposition, the Georgian affair in which they accuse Georgians of financing a possible revolution or a change of government in Russia. This was done to support Mr. Putin's policies. It is absolutely clear...

This was also a response to the number of Russian espionage cases that were public in recent years. Since 2010, when 11 Russian illegals (editor's note: alleged spies working without official cover) were found in the United States, numerous Russian espionage cases in the United States and in Europe have been uncovered. These were huge embarrassments for Russia.

RFE/RL: Russian authorities have asked Fogle to leave Russia. What do you think will now happen to him in the United States?

Volodarsky: He will be interviewed extensively by the counterintelligence department of the agency, they will try to find out all the circumstances, and I am quite sure that he will confess. Then they will decide what to do with him. He will probably be fired.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Eugenio from: Vienna
May 15, 2013 14:38
Is Saakashvili on the lose again? It's only because his cell is not ready yet.
In Response

by: Andrew from: Auckland
May 16, 2013 06:23
Ah, Eugenio with his "relevant" posts again. Well here is one for you, I was at the Tbilisi wine festival last saturday and was talking to a young Apsu Abkhazian, a lot of them are coming to Georgia to escape what they term "the Russian occupation and destruction" of Abkhazia. The Russians now operate 20+ bank brands in Abkhazia which are used to launder Russian "black money" stolen from the state, they are turning Abkhazia into a cesspit of corruption, and most Abkhaz now appear to wish they had not gone for so called independence. The Abkhaz I was talking to blamed the violence between Abkhaz and Georgians squarely on Russia,
In Response

by: LG from: USA
May 16, 2013 20:53
Andrew, you are wasting your time trying to make anyone believe that the Abkhaz would prefer Georgian (chauvinist) rule rather than independence.

by: Jack from: US
May 15, 2013 15:06
the whole US foreign policy is a comedy nowadays. The US soldiers and ambassadors are being killed by the friends and allies of Hillary Clinton - Sunni Muslim freedom fighters, while US government sponsors Sunni Muslim activists so they can kill more US soldiers and perhaps more US ambassadors. US government is going bankrupt and cannot even pay CIA to do a decent job of recruiting a spy

by: Demetrius M from: My House
May 15, 2013 20:41
Or Mr.Fogle worked for the embassy in some low-level function, but was playing out a fantasy of being a CIA operator. Perhaps in his mind he felt if he recruited a Russian, he would be a hero.

Send him home and give him a job that ends with the question "would you like fries with that?".

by: Mamuka
May 15, 2013 22:29
Did you see the picture of his embassy badge? It expires this month. At least the chekisti chose somebody who was leaving anyway to stage this stunt. Molodtsi!

by: American Troll
May 16, 2013 10:29
This was all a HUGE MISUNDERSTANDING. The wigs were for an undisclosed "senior government official" known only by the initials V.V.P. (CIA codename "Mama Crane"), as were a pair of Italian leather four-inch platform shoes that were apparently lost in the arrest, doubtless now being worn by one of the arresting officers.

by: Ray F. from: Lawrence, KS
May 16, 2013 13:14
‘Badly staged comedy’ or not, what an embarrassment and waste of resources! The incident has all the hallmarks of a bureaucracy out of control, where the left hand has no idea what the right is doing. Just like our Russian counterparts, US intelligence agencies will go to absurd lengths to justify their existence.
In Response

by: Regular Joe from: USA
May 16, 2013 14:35
"...embarrassment and waste of resources..." indeed! But embarrassment to whom and whose resources were wasted? It appears it was the FSB. This reminds me of the incident in 2001 when the FSB tried to recruit an American Fulbright scholar in Russia, and then had him arrested and imprisoned on trumped up drug charges when he refused.
In Response

by: Ray F. from: Lawrence, KS
May 16, 2013 18:43
Reg Joe, I hope that you are right and I'm sure that there is much more to this incident than has been published. Like 'Anonymous' below, we want to put some lipstick on this pig, but I have to wonder why we are still messing with swine when we have much more pressing concerns. What 'secrets' are we going to collect from potential defectors? That Russia is corrupt? We may want to look in the mirror. As a taxpayer, I suspect that this money could be better spent fixing the infrastructure of our own country.

by: Anonymous
May 16, 2013 16:58
Putin walked right into this one. The trap, code-named ‘Get Smart’, was conceived with the assistance of MI6.

The objective was to recruit Russian SFB/SVR/GRU officers by offering them large sums of money; but how to advertise the scheme?

‘Write a letter offering substantial rewards for SFB/SVR/GRU defectors, and let Putin publish the letter’ was the agreed solution.

It worked. American embassies and consulates worldwide are now ready to welcome potential Russian defectors.
In Response

by: Jack from: US
May 16, 2013 19:22
with US government going bankrupt, they can hardly pay any would be defector. The money US government can put on a table is laughable to any Russian FSB officer who are making more money than their CIA counterparts. US government with all its hillaries and husseins obamas is a laughing stock of the world these days, having being defeated in Iraq and Afghanistan, and having its ambassador killed in Libya by the very same folks US government installed there

by: Armenian from: Armenia
May 16, 2013 21:44
James Blonde! LOL!

This article is damage control by Radio CIA.

Excellent job FSB!

by: Milovan Rafailovic from: Florida
May 18, 2013 16:44
Did you say the author of this article or his organization was based in London? Well, that explains everything.

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