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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

TV Claims Alleged Spy Is Retired U.S. Navy Officer

ABC News reported that the American detained by the Federal Security Service on suspicion of spying is Edmond Pope, a retired U.S. Navy captain.

The television report Wednesday said he was in his mid-fifties, spent much of his career working in naval intelligence and traveled often to Russia to carry out work for Pennsylvania State University's Applied Research Laboratory.

Russian security officials said the man now worked for a private firm in Moscow, but had once worked for American intelligence services.

The American Chamber of Commerce said Thursday that it hadn't heard of the man mentioned in the ABC report.

"We don't know of anyone by that name, and we haven't heard of any company he's associated with,'' Scott Blacklin, the chamber's president, said Thursday. "We're as hungry for information about this as anyone else.''

U.S. Embassy officials said the man, who is being held at Lefortovo Prison, has not authorized the release of his name.

One embassy official, who refused to comment on the spying charges, said the detained man had been visited at the Moscow prison by a U.S. consular officer.

"He appeared to be in good health and made no complaints about his treatment of any kind,'' said the official, who asked not to be identified.

A second official at the embassy said that Russian authorities hadn't filed any formal charges, but were investigating the American under an article of the Criminal Code concerning espionage and had appointed him a Russian lawyer.

The American and an alleged Russian accomplice were detained Wednesday in an FSB operation. Officials alleged he had developed contacts with Russian scientists in efforts to steal state secrets.

NTV television reported that the secrets were blueprints for submarine-based missiles.

The incident was the latest in a string of spying arrests in Russia and the United States, and seemed likely to further strain already tense relations between the two.

An American diplomat, Cheri Leberknight, left Russia late last year after she was detained and accused of being a CIA agent.

Shortly afterward, Washington expelled a Russian diplomat who was allegedly caught picking up transmissions from a bugging device discovered at the U.S. State Department.

Officials at the FSB have said they believe Western spies have increased their level of activity in recent years.

The director of the FSB, Nikolai Patrushev, said earlier this year that his organization had managed to disrupt the activities of 65 foreign spies and 30 Russian accomplices last year. He said that in 1998, the FSB discovered and hindered only 11 foreign spies.