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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rossia TV Says U.S. Spying at Kyrgyz Base

Rossia state television aired a documentary Sunday that accused the United States of using its only remaining air base in Central Asia as cover for a large-scale spying operation.

The documentary -- made by the same journalist who accused Britain of using fake rocks to spy in Moscow in 2006 -- purportedly shows how the United States ran intelligence operations from the Manas air base in Kyrgyzstan, which is used for supplying foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Kyrgyzstan told Washington in February to close the air base after it secured a $2 billion economic aid package from Russia, a setback for the United States as it seeks new supply routes.

"Eight years ago, under the pretext of the war in Afghanistan, the United States opened its air base at the Manas airport," Rossia said in a statement released ahead of the broadcast. "But this was only the start. Subsequently, the Americans in Kyrgyzstan launched a wide-scale intelligence operation."

A U.S. defense official dismissed the allegations as ridiculous and noted that the TV report surfaced just as U.S. and Kyrgyz officials resumed dialogue over the base's future.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly, said U.S. and Kyrgyz representatives resumed talks last week. He gave no details.

The documentary was made by journalist Arkady Mamontov, who in 2006 provoked a dispute between London and Moscow by airing a film showing pictures of what he said were British spies using fake rocks to gather secrets electronically.

State television is seen as a mouthpiece for the authorities. But airing the film days after President Dmitry Medvedev's first meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama is likely to raise speculation of tensions within Russia's elite.

The documentary accuses the United States of running spying operations in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek. In one shot, the camera focuses in on a windowless, two-story building at the Manas base that the reporter says is the hub of a major U.S. radio intelligence unit.

The film then switches to grainy pictures of a woman identified as a CIA agent working under diplomatic cover as first political secretary of the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek. No one with the name given was listed on the embassy's web site.

In a scene reminiscent of a John le Carre novel, the film claims to show how U.S. agents used chalk marks on walls to set up secret meetings. The woman said to be a CIA agent is then shown in a shawl, disguised as an old woman.

The clip says the United States created a special team of spies in Bishkek to follow local politicians and keep Kyrgyz counterintelligence off the scent of the CIA agents.

"It should be noted that all this was done on the territory of a sovereign state, Kyrgyzstan, and with disregard for all the norms of international law," the film said.

Mamontov declined to comment on the film.