Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rebel Spy May Find Refuge In Russia




The whereabouts of Richard Tomlinson remained a mystery Wednesday after Russian officials denied reports that the renegade British spy has settled in Moscow.


After being kicked out of France and denied entry to the United States and Australia, Tomlinson was on the run again last week, having been declared persona non grata in Switzerland. Before he left Geneva, the out-of-favor former agent from the British intelligence service MI6 told a British correspondent he was "heading east."


"He said he was heading to Germany or to Russia, or perhaps to Cuba, but I wouldn't give it very much credence," said BBC correspondent Claire Doole by telephone from Geneva. "He is a difficult character to judge. He was perhaps playing a joke. He produced an impression of being out of his depth ? more drowning than swimming. All he wants is an easy life."


Tomlinson resurfaced a few days later, contacting London's Sunday Times newspaper. He told the paper he was calling from a distillery in Moscow and announced plans to launch a brewing business. The disgruntled former spy intends to bottle his own cocktails in Russia for export. They will appropriately be sold under the names 007 and KGB.


"It's going to have one of those nitrogen gizmos in it, so that it fizzes if you shake it too much f it must be stirred, not shaken," he told the Sunday Times about the 007 mix, adding that he was going to be in charge of sales and promotion. He said he had traveled to Russia on a tourist visa, but there is speculation that he may be seeking refugee status.


Spokesmen for the Federal Border Service and the Foreign Ministry refused to confirm whether Tomlinson is in Russia. Kommersant newspaper quoted an unnamed source at the Federal Security Service, or FSB, as saying that Tomlinson does intend to come to Russia, but that he is not here yet.


But David Leppard, the journalist who wrote the story for the Sunday Times, said Tomlinson is already enjoying the status of a celebrity spy in Moscow, and he believes the 36-year-old former spy is in Russia. "He's never lied to me," Leppard said.


An FSB source said Tomlinson should have no trouble getting a Russian visa, should he want one. And no one from the British side appears to be stopping him, either.


"There is no law preventing Mr. Tomlinson from traveling to Russia," said Nev Johnson, press officer for the British Foreign Office. "There is no warrant out for his arrest."


Tomlinson is suspected of revealing state secrets and is currently under investigation. British officials say he is responsible for posting a site on the Internet that revealed the names of 116 British agents last month.