Eleven alleged Russian spies arrested in US

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The United States announced the arrest of eleven people accused of acting as spies for Russia, breaking up what the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) called a "long term, deep cover" spy ring within the US.

Those arrested were, according to the US government, members of a spy ring that had existed for several years, involving Russian agents adopting civilian identities. All are charged with acting as unlawful agents for Russia, which carries a sentence of a prison term up to five years. Nine were charged with money laundering, a crime that carries a prison term of up to twenty years.

According to the US government, the suspects had been trained by the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service to obtain information about US military policies, including those concerned with nuclear weapons, as well as intelligence about leadership at the CIA and the White House.

The FBI said that to obtain those objectives, the suspects were instructed to live as American citizens under false names, some as married couples. Some suspects were able to achieve ties with prominent US citizens, including a scientist working with nuclear weapons and a New York financier who had ties to officials within the US government.

Communication with Russian authorities was allegedly via several disparate methods, including unique wireless internet connections or pictures posted on the Internet with hidden messages, as well as more traditional methods such as burying messages or swapping bags between agents.

The Russian Foreign Ministry told the AFP that they are investigating the allegations, but say that "there are a lot of contradictions." No further comment has been made.

Names of those accused

Names in quotes are cover names, while those not in quotes are real names of the alleged agents. Couples are on the same bullet, while those living alone are separate. Locations are where the suspects were arrested.

  • "Richard and Cynthia Murphy" (Montclair, New Jersey)
  • Vicky Paleaz (Yonkers, New York)
  • "Juan Lazaro" (Yonkers, New York)
  • Anna Chapman (Manhattan, New York City)
  • Mikhail Zemenko (Arlington, Virginia)
  • "Michael Zottoli" and "Patricia Mills" (Arlington, Virginia)
  • "Donald Howard Heathfield" and "Tracy Lee Ann Foley" (Boston, Massachusetts)
  • "Christopher R. Metsos" (Larnaca, Cyprus)

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 27.