Russia orders expulsion of U.S. diplomat accused of being CIA agent

CNN Wire Service

MOSCOW — Russia ordered an American diplomat to be expelled from the country Tuesday after accusing him of being a CIA agent who was trying to recruit a staff member of one of the Russian special services.

Russia’s FSB counterintelligence agency declared Ryan Fogle, third secretary of the Political Department of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, “persona non grata” and asked for his “early expulsion.”

Fogle was detained overnight Monday to Tuesday “during an attempt to recruit a representative of one of the Russian security services,” the FSB said in a statement.

He was briefly held before being handed over to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, following formal protocol, the FSB said.

“The ‘spy arsenal’ that was found with him as well as a big sum of money not only expose a foreign agent who was caught red-handed, but also raise serious questions for the American side,” the FSB said.

The U.S. diplomat had “special technical devices, written instructions for the Russian citizen being recruited, a large sum of cash and means of changing his appearance,” state news agency RIA-Novosti quoted the FSB as saying earlier Tuesday.

An image released by the FSB shows what it says are his belongings, including wigs, a knife, dark glasses and a compass.

Another shows what appears to be a large quantity of high-denomination euro currency notes.

The man, with short brown hair and dressed in a blue-and-white-checked shirt, is also pictured apparently being detained by security in the street and seated at a desk for questioning.

A photograph of the man’s ID card released by the FSB also identifies him as Ryan Fogle.

Nikolai Zakharov, a spokesman for the FSB, said the Russian approached by Fogle was free and that there were no charges or accusations against him.

The embassy did not have an immediate comment but said it would issue a statement later Tuesday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it had summoned U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul for an explanation.

It’s not the first time in recent years that Russia and the United States have traded claims about alleged agents, in episodes reminiscent of the Cold War era.

In 2010, the two nations carried out a “spy swap” in Vienna, Austria.

The United States exchanged 10 Russian agents who’d been expelled from the U.S. for intelligence gathering for four individuals who’d been incarcerated in Russia.

— CNN’s Alla Eshchenko reported from Moscow, Nick Paton Walsh reported in London and Laura Smith-Spark wrote in London.