Intelligence Service Blasts Spy Story

ReutersFormer spy Sergei Tretyakov giving an interview about his role in the events covered in the book "Comrade J."
The Foreign Intelligence Service blasted allegations by a former double agent that Russian spies helped the government siphon $500 million from the UN's oil-for-food program, in a statement released Monday.

Sergei Tretyakov, a former spy at Russia's mission to the United Nations from 1995 to 2000, said he oversaw an operation helping Saddam Hussein's regime manipulate the price of Iraqi oil sold under the program, allowing Russia to skim off some of the profits.

"Leaving Tretyakov's so-called revelations to his own conscience, we would like to stress that in the world's special services engaging in 'PR for treason' has always been considered disgraceful," the statement said.

"And treason itself is criminally punishable," it added.

The statement came in answer to interviews Tretyakov gave to publicize the book in which he made the allegations, "Comrade J: The Untold Secrets of Russia's Master Spy in America after the End of the Cold War."

Tretyakov quit the Foreign Intelligence Service in October 2000, promising in his resignation letter that his "departure will not bring any harm to the interests of the country," the service's statement said.

In the book, written by former Washington Post journalist Pete Earley and published Thursday, Tretyakov says as the deputy head of intelligence at the UN mission he recruited spies including a Canadian who became a UN nuclear verification expert, a senior Russian official in the oil-for-food program and a former Soviet bloc ambassador.

In an interview last week, he called the UN an "international spy nest."

It was the first time the 51-year-old, whose defection was first reported in 2001, had spoken publicly about his espionage activities.