The FBI has arrested 11 alleged Russian spies and broken up a “long term, deep cover” network of agents that spent years adopting American identities. The last spy was recently captured trying to fly to Budapest. The group had been gathering an wide array of intelligence, everything from information about nuclear weapons to the gold market and personnel changes at the CIA.
FBI alleges in the indictment that the Russian intelligence service, known as the SVR, sent spies to live in the United States under false names with the intent of becoming so Americanised they could build relationships with sources and gather information without raising suspicion. So deep was their cover that some of the agents lived as married couples and had children who have grown up as Americans unaware that their parents are Russian. Much like the Hollywood movie “Little Nikita” starring Sidney Poitier and River Phoenix in 1988.
While allegations that the accused got close to a scientist working with “bunker-buster” nuclear bombs and a New York financier with powerful political ties, the intercepts do not suggest they were successful.
An intercepted message from the SVR to two of the alleged spies outlined their mission.
“You were sent to USA for long-term service trip. Your education, your bank accounts, car, house, etc – all these serve one goal: fulfill your main mission, ie to search and develop ties in policy making circles in US and send intels (intelligence reports) to C (Centre),” an intercepted message said according to the indictment.
The FBI described the “Illegals” as being paired in Russia “so that they can live together and work together in a host country, under the guise of a married couple. Illegals who are placed together and cohabit in the country to which they are assigned will often have children together”.