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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

FSB Arrests U.S. Citizen Suspected Of Spying




The Federal Security Service on Wednesday arrested an American businessman on suspicion of spying.


The FSB released a statement saying a search of the U.S. citizen's belongings revealed that this "foreigner intentionally developed contacts with Russian scientists in Moscow, Novosibirsk and other cities of our country with the goal of gathering Russian state secrets." The arrest was made in Moscow.


The statement said a Russian citizen believed to be one of the American's informants was also arrested.


U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin told reporters in Washington that the man had been taken to meet with consular officials and looked to be in good health.


He "made no complaints of mistreatment, and he indicated that he expects this matter to be resolved in a short time," Rubin said, adding that a lawyer had been appointed to him by the Russian authorities.


The FSB statement identified the American as the head of a private company who had earlier been employed by a U.S. intelligence agency. Reached by telephone, an FSB spokesman refused to release the names of either the American or his alleged accomplice.


The FSB statement said officers had found a "large amount of documents exposing his [the American's] illegal activities," including technical drawings of various equipment, tapes of his conversations with Russian defense industry officials as well as hand-written receipts for cash payments to these officials.


The service's statement said the arrested Russian was an employee of a "Moscow organization" where he was involved in the development of defense technologies.


The Russian had a large amount of foreign currency on him at the time of the arrest, the statement said. NTV television said he was found with $30,000. NTV also said the secrets were plans for a missile to be deployed on submarines.


Konstantin Preobrazhensky, a retired KGB lieutenant colonel who served 15 years in the foreign intelligence directorate, said it "looked strange" that the American was carrying receipts for cash payments, something professional spies try not to do. This, he said, may indicate the American was doing research on his own rather than spying.


The FSB said charges had not yet been brought against either the American or the Russian. Officials also declined to say whether the American would simply be expelled or charged and tried in a Russian court.


There is a good chance the latest scandal could provoke a tit-for-tat expulsion from the United States.


Last December, FSB officers detained U.S. diplomat Cheri Leberknight for allegedly trying to obtain secret military data from a Russian citizen. Leberknight was expelled.


Shortly after, Washington expelled Russian diplomat Stanislav Gusev for allegedly eavesdropping on the U.S. State Department.


FSB officials have stated that Western spies have stepped up their activities in Russia over the past few years.


FSB director Nikolai Patrushev reported earlier this year that his service had managed to disrupt the activities of 65 foreign spies and 30 Russian accomplices last year. In 1998, the FSB discovered and hindered only 11 foreign spies and 19 Russians, he said.