MOSCOW: Russia expelled a US diplomat on Tuesday after saying he had been caught red-handed with disguises, special equipment and wads of cash as he tried to recruit a Russian intelligence agent to work for the CIA.
The announcement, a throwback to the Cold War, came at an awkward time for Washington and Moscow as they try to improve relations and bring the warring sides in Syria together for an international peace conference.
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said Ryan Fogle, a third secretary at the US Embassy in Moscow, had been detained overnight carrying “special technical equipment”, a disguise, a large sum of money and instructions for recruiting his target.
The Foreign Ministry summoned US Ambassador Michael McFaul to discuss the case on Wednesday and released a statement demandingFogle leave Russia without delay.
“Such provocative actions in the spirit of the Cold War will by no means promote the strengthening of mutual trust,” it said.
Russian television showed grainy footage of a man identified as Fogle being arrested, and the state-run Russia Today channel published photographs on its website that it said showed Fogle being detained in a blond wig.
In one photograph, a man lay face-down on the ground with his arms being pinned behind his back.
Another image showed two wigs, apparently found on him, as well as three pairs of glasses, a torch, a mobile phone and a compass. Also displayed was a wad of 500-euro ($650) notes and a letter addressed to a “Dear friend”.
“This is an advance from someone who has been highly impressed by your professionalism, and who would highly value your cooperation in the future,” the letter said.
“We are willing to offer you $100,000 and discuss your experience, expertise and cooperation, and payment could be significantly larger, if you are willing to answer concrete questions,” it said, offering $1 million a year for long-term cooperation plus possible bonuses for useful information.