Russian spy operated under “non official cover” in Manhattan collecting economic intelligence information

Publié le par Ground Report by Robert Tilford

Russian spy operated under “non official cover” in Manhattan collecting economic intelligence information

On January 26, 2015 Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder, Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, John S. Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, and Randall C. Coleman, the Assistant Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) for the Counterintelligence Division, announced the arrest of one individual and charges filed against two other individuals believed to be operating as part of a Russian spy ring inside the United States.

An intercepted memo to active Russian undercover agents operating under long term “deep cover” assignments inside the United States in 2010  -from Directorate “S” in Moscow SVR HQ.

An intercepted memo to active Russian undercover agents operating under long term “deep cover” assignments inside the United States in 2010 -from Directorate “S” in Moscow SVR HQ.

1) EVGENY BURYAKOV, a/k/a “Zhenya,” 2) IGOR SPORYSHEV, and 3) VICTOR PODOBNYY in connection with BURYAKOV’s service as a covert intelligence agent on behalf of the Russian Federation (“Russia”) in New York City, without notifying the United States Attorney General of BURYAKOV’s status as an agent of Russia, as required by federal law.

BURYAKOV was placed under arrest earlier today in Bronx, New York, and is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn in Manhattan federal court later today.

Both SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY no longer reside in the United States and have not been arrested at this time. By virtue of their prior positions in the United States on behalf of Russia, both of them were protected by “diplomatic immunity” from arrest and prosecution while in the United States.

According to the Complaint unsealed in Manhattan federal court today:

BURYAKOV worked in the United States as an agent of Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, known as the “SVR.”

BURYAKOV operated under “non-official cover,” meaning he entered and remained in the United States as a private citizen, posing as an employee in the Manhattan office of a Russian bank. SVR agents operating under such non-official cover—sometimes referred to as “NOCs”—typically are subject to less scrutiny by the host government, and, in many cases, are never identified as intelligence agents by the host government.

As a result, a NOC is an extremely valuable intelligence asset for the SVR, as well the kind that cannot be replaced very easily.

Federal law in the United States prohibits individuals from acting as agents of foreign governments within the United States without prior notification to the United States Attorney General.

Department of Justice records indicate that BURYAKOV has never notified the United States Attorney General that he is, in fact, an agent of Russian Foreign Intelligence Agency (SVR).

SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY are also SVR agents who worked in the United States to gather intelligence on behalf of Russia by posing as official representatives of Russia.

From November 22, 2010, to November 21, 2014, SPORYSHEV served as a Trade Representative of the Russian Federation in New York.

From December 13, 2012, to September 12, 2013, PODOBNYY served as an Attaché to the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations. Based on their official government postings on behalf of Russia, SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY are exempt from notifying the United States Attorney General of the true nature of their work. However, that exemption does not permit them to conspire with, or aid and abet, BURYAKOV in his work as an unregistered agent of Russia operating within the United States.

The intelligence-gathering efforts of SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY included, among other things, (1) attempting to recruit New York City residents as intelligence sources for Russia; (2) tasking BURYAKOV to gather intelligence; and (3) transmitting intelligence reports prepared by BURYAKOV back to SVR headquarters in Moscow.

Specifically, during the course of the charged offenses, SPORYSHEV was responsible for relaying assignments from the SVR to BURYAKOV, and SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY were responsible for “analyzing and reporting back to the SVR about the fruits of BURYAKOV’s intelligence-gathering efforts.”

The directives from the SVR to BURYAKOV, SPORYSHEV, and PODOBNYY, as well as to other covert SVR agents acting within the United States, included requests to gather intelligence on, among other subjects, potential United States sanctions against Russian banks and the United States’ efforts to develop alternative energy resources.

Clandestine Meetings and Communications

During the course of their work as covert SVR agents in the United States, BURYAKOV, SPORYSHEV, and PODOBNYY regularly met and communicated using clandestine methods and coded messages, in order to exchange intelligence-related information while shielding their associations with one another as SVR agents.

These efforts were designed, among other things, to preserve their respective covers as an employee of a bank in Manhattan (BURYAKOV), a Trade Representative of the Russian Federation in New York (SPORYSHEV), and an Attaché to the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations (PODOBNYY). In particular, the defendants worked to safeguard BURYAKOV’s work as a “NOC.”

SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY acted as covert intermediaries for BURYAKOV to communicate with the SVR on intelligence-related matters. As an agent posing as someone without any official ties to the Russian government or the SVR, BURYAKOV was unable to access the SVR New York Office—which is located within an office maintained by Russia in New York, New York—without potentially alerting others to his association with the SVR.

As such, BURYAKOV required the assistance of other SVR agents, like SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY, (both working under “diplomatic cover”) to exchange secret communications and information with the SVR through the communications systems located in the SVR New York Office.

From as early as March 2012 through as recently as mid-September 2014, the FBI had conducted physical or electronic surveillance of BURYAKOV and SPORYSHEV engaging in over four dozen brief meetings, several of which involved BURYAKOV passing a bag, magazine, or slip of paper to SPORYSHEV containing secret information and code communications.

These meetings typically took place outdoors, in  public or private setting where the risk of effective surveillance was reduced relative to an indoor location.

These meetings were nearly always preceded by a short telephone call between BURYAKOV and SPORYSHEV during which one of the men typically told the other that he had an item to give to him. Typically, during these telephone calls, which were intercepted by the FBI, the item in question was referred to as some non-specific “ticket,” “book,” “list,” or other ordinary item (e.g., “umbrella” or “hat”). These were believed to be secret code words relating to the information and importance of the information being passed.

Subsequently, at each meeting surveilled by the FBI, BURYAKOV and SPORYSHEV met and sometimes exchanged documents or other small items. Notably, despite discussing on approximately one dozen occasions the need to meet to transfer “tickets,” BURYAKOV and SPORYSHEV, were—other than one occasion where they discussed going to a movie—never observed attending, or discussing in any detail, events that would typically require tickets, such as a sporting event or concert.

In fact, BURYAKOV and SPORYSHEV used this coded language to signal that they needed to meet, and then met to exchange intelligence information.

Attempts by Sporyshev and Podobnyy to Recruit Intelligence Sources in New York City was ongoing

In numerous recorded communications, SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY discussed their attempts to recruit United States residents, including several individuals employed by major companies, and several young women with ties to a major university located in New York, New York (“University-1”), as intelligence sources for the SVR.

On these recordings, the defendants discussed the potential value of these sources, and identified particular sources by use of a “source name,” which appeared to be a coded name.

In addition,  SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY discussed the efforts of other SVR agents to recruit a number of other Russian-origin individuals associated with University-1 as intelligence sources.

For example, SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY discussed PODOBNYY’s efforts to recruit a male working as a consultant in New York City as an intelligence source. During this conversation, PODOBNYY explained his source recruitment method, which included cheating, promising favors, and then discarding the intelligence source once the relevant information was obtained by the SVR: “This is intelligence method to cheat. . . . You promise a favor for a favor. You get the documents from him and tell him to go [expletive deleted] himself.”

In other recorded conversations, SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY made clear that they worked for the SVR. For example, on January 31, 2013, SPORYSHEV and another SVR agent not charged in the Complaint (“CC-1”) had a discussion inside the SVR New York Office about their contracts with the SVR. SPORYSHEV stated that, “Everyone has a five-year contract,” and explained, in response to CC-1’s question about reimbursement for the travel of SVR agents’ family members, that “travel for military personnel and their families on authorized home leave is paid, and in our, in our SVR, this, the payment for getting to and from the duty station.”

In addition, on April 25, 2013, SPORYSHEV and PODOBNYY discussed the use of nontraditional cover (NOC) for Russian intelligence officers and, in particular, the Illegals program that ended with the arrest of 10 “deep cover” SVR agents back in July 2010, including sexy Russian spy Anna Chapman.

Buryakov’s Intelligence Taskings

SPORYSHEV was responsible for relaying intelligence assignments from the SVR to BURYAKOV.

The FBI obtained electronic recordings of several conversations relating to such intelligence directives being communicated to and carried out by BURYAKOV in his position as an SVR agent acting under non-official cover. For example, on May 21, 2013, SPORYSHEV called BURYAKOV to ask for BURYAKOV’s help in formulating questions to be used for intelligence gathering purposes by others associated with a leading Russian state-owned news organization (the “News Organization”).

BURYAKOV responded by supplying SPORYSHEV with a particular line of questioning about the New York Stock Exchange for use by the News Organization.

Buryakov’s Receipt of Purported Official United States Government Documents

In the summer of 2014, BURYAKOV met numerous times with a “confidential source” or informant  working for the FBI (“CS-1”). CS-1 posed as the representative of a wealthy investor looking to develop casinos in Russia. During the course of these meetings, and consistent with his interests as a Russian intelligence agent, BURYAKOV demonstrated his strong desire to obtain information about subjects far outside the scope of his work as a bank employee.

During these meetings, BURYAKOV also accepted documents that CS-1 claimed he had obtained from a U.S. government agency and which purportedly contained information potentially useful to Russia, including information about United States sanctions against Russia.

BURYAKOV, 39, SPORYSHEV, 40, and PODOBNYY, 27, are charged in two counts.

The first count charges the defendants with participating in a conspiracy for BURYAKOV to act in the United States as an agent of a foreign government without first notifying the Attorney General, and carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

The second count charges BURYAKOV with acting in the United States as an agent of a foreign government without first notifying the Attorney General, and charges SPORYSHEV and PODOBYNYY with aiding and abetting that offense. The second count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by a judge.

Note: The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Adam Fee, Ian McGinley, and Anna M. Skotko of the Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and Senior Trial Attorney Heather Schmidt of the Counterespionage Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division.

The charges in the Complaint are merely accusations at this point, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

See related documents in this case: http://www.scribd.com/doc/253795635/Evgeny-Bur-Yakov-Complaint

See related video: FBI busts alleged Russian spy ring in New York City  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEazWhYp2vg

Note: We contacted the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow through a trusted source which would only say that officials there insist there was “no evidence” supporting the espionage charges leveled by the U.S. government in this case.”  They also claim they have “no access to this Russian citizen and demanded access to Buryakov through formal high level diplomatic channels  - which has apparently not happened as of the publication of this article.

An FBI official in Washington, working in Counter intelligence absolutely refused comment in this case and referred us to the Public information office which also refused comment and did not return our calls in connection with requests for more information in the case against Buryakov. So much for freedom of the press…

There remains a lot of questions surrounding this case, including the timing of Buryakov arrest. Apparently the feeling that they had already gotten all they could get out of this spy and decided to arrest him before he could otherwise leave the country.  However the FBI refused to say exactly, which isn’t unusual in these types of cases…

Publié dans Articles de Presse

Pour être informé des derniers articles, inscrivez vous :
Commenter cet article