US announces charges in New York Russian spy ring case

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US announces charges in New York Russian spy ring case
The FBI claims a Russian banker was passing information to two Russian diplomats in an alleged spying ring.
Yevgeny Buryakov appears in federal court in Manhattan Monday, Jan 26, 2015 in New York after his arrest earlier in the day in connection with a Cold War-style Russian spy ring that spoke in code, passed messages concealed in bags and magazines, and tried to recruit people with ties to an unnamed New York City university, according to authorities. At an initial court appearance, Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Fee portrayed Buryakov as a professional spy skilled at duplicity who posed as an employee in the Manhattan branch of a Russian bank and lived in the Bronx with his Russian wife and two children. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)
Yevgeny Buryakov, right, listens as Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Fee, left, makes his case Monday, Jan 26, 2015, in New York at the federal court in Manhattan against Buryakov, whom Fee portrayed as a professional spy skilled at duplicity who posed as an employee in the Manhattan branch of a Russian bank while living in the Bronx with his Russian wife and two children. Buryakov was arrested earlier in the day in connection with a Cold War-style Russian spy ring that authorities said spoke in code, passed messages concealed in bags and magazines, and tried to recruit people with ties to an unnamed New York City university. At center is Federal Defender attorney Sabrina Shroff. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)
Yevgeny Buryakov, right, listens as is attorney Sabrina Shroff, standing, argues for his bail, Monday Jan. 26, 2015, in New York at the federal court in Manhattan where Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Fee, left, portrayed Buryakov as a professional spy skilled at duplicity who posed as an employee in the Manhattan branch of a Russian bank while living in the Bronx with his Russian wife and two children. Buryakov, who was arrested earlier in the day in connection with a Cold War-style Russian spy ring, was denied bail based upon the argument he was a flight risk since his cover was blown. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams)
FBI smashes Russian spy ring. http://t.co/Uh56BvK0e2 http://t.co/0CIqvJI2JY
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NEW YORK (AP) -- Three Russian citizens were charged Monday in connection with a Cold War-style Russian spy ring that spoke in code, passed messages concealed in bags and magazines, and tried to recruit people with ties to an unnamed New York City university, authorities said.

The defendants were directed by Russian authorities to gather sensitive economic intelligence on potential U.S. sanctions against Russian banks and efforts here to develop alternative energy resources, according to a complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan.

Prosecutors say one defendant, Yevgeny Buryakov, posed as an employee in the Manhattan branch of a Russian bank. He was arrested on Monday in the Bronx, where he lived with his Russian wife and two children.

At an initial court appearance, Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Fee portrayed Buryakov as a professional spy skilled at duplicity.

"His life here, your honor, really is a deception," the prosecutor said.

Buryakov, 39, arrived in the United States in 2010 and had a work visa. His lawyer, Sabrina Shroff, lost an argument for bail after a magistrate judge agreed with the government that he had an incentive to flee since his cover was blown.

The two others named in the complaint, Igor Sporyshev and Victor Podobnyy - described as Buryakov's handler - held low-level diplomatic positions. They were protected from prosecution because of their diplomatic status and are believed to have returned to Russia.

Between March 2012 through as recently as mid-September 2014, the FBI observed Buryakov and Sporyshev meeting 48 times in outdoor settings, the complaint says. Several of the meetings "involved Buryakov passing a bag, magazine or slip of paper to Sporyshev," it says.

In intercepted telephone calls made to set up the meetings, the pair spoke about sharing tickets to movies or sporting events, or needing to deliver items like books or hats but were never observed doing that, the complaint says.

They also "discussed their attempts to recruit U.S. residents, including several individuals employed by major companies, and several young women with ties to a major university located in New York City," it says.

The investigation recalled a 2010 case resulting in the arrest of 10 covert agents who infiltrated suburban America using fake names. All 10 pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan to conspiracy charges and were ordered out of the country as part of a spy swap for four people convicted of betraying Moscow to the West.

The case was announced Monday by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and FBI officials.

The Russian Foreign Ministry and the Foreign Intelligence Service could not immediately be reached for comment on the case. Alexey Zaytsev, spokesman for Russia's U.N. Mission, said: "We don't have any comment now."

The new case demonstrates "our firm commitment to combating attempts by covert agents to illegally gather intelligence and recruit spies within the United States," Holder said in a statement.

Bharara added that the charges "make it clear that - more than two decades after the presumptive end of the Cold War - Russian spies continue to seek to operate in our midst."

Other Russian spies caught in the US:

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Previous Russian spies
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US announces charges in New York Russian spy ring case
This undated photo provided by U.S. Marshals on Thursday July 29, 2010 shows Anna Chapman. The FBI arrested Chapman and nine others on June 27 charging them with acting as unregistered foreign agents for Russia. (AP Photo/U.S. Marshals)
This frame grab image from a surveillance video made and released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and partially obscured by the source, shows Russian spy Anna Chapman, left, in New York. FBI video tapes show Chapman, a former New York real estate agent, on a January 2010 shopping trip to Macy's in New York City's Herald Square. Her spy saga has turned her into an international celebrity. (AP Photo/FBI)
This frame grab image from a surveillance video made and released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and partially obscured by the source, shows Russian spy Anna Chapman in New York. FBI video tapes show Chapman on a January 2010 shopping trip to Macy's in New York City's Herald Square by Chapman, a former New York real estate agent whose role in the spy saga turned her into an international celebrity. (AP Photo/FBI)
This June 20, 2004, image released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Monday, Oct. 31, 2011, shows an FBI surveillance photo Michael Zottoli at Columbus Circle in New York. Zottoli of Arlington, Va., was one of a ring of Russian sleeper spies shut down by federal counterintelligence agents in June of 2010 in a case code-named “Ghost Stories”. The arrest led two weeks later to the biggest spy swap between the U.S. and Russia since the cold War. (AP Photo/FBI)
This undated image released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Monday, Oct. 31, 2011, shows an FBI surveillance photo of Tracey Lee Ann Foley of Cambridge, Mass. Foley was in a ring of Russian sleeper spies in the U.S. shut down by federal counterintelligence agents in June of 2010 in a case code-named “Ghost Stories”. Foley was a real estate agent. (AP Photo/FBI)
In this frame grab image from a surveillance video taken June 6, 2010, by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), partially obscured by the source, and released by the FBI Monday, Oct. 21, 2011, Russian spy Anna Chapman, wearing sunglasses, meets with an undercover agent in a coffee shop in New York. The FBI has said Chapman used her laptop to transmit encrypted information from a coffee shop to a to a passing van. It is not clear whether this image shows Chapman engaged in the transmission of information, as the FBI alleges. (AP Photo/FBI)
This undated image released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Monday, Oct. 31, 2011, shows Richard Murphy, left, and Christopher Metsos, in Queens, NY. Murphy was one of the ring of Russian sleeper spies shut down by federal counterintelligence agents in June of 2010 in a case code-named “Ghost Stories”, that led two weeks later to the biggest spy swap between the U.S. and Russia since the cold War. According to the FBI Mestos is the 11th suspected ring member; he claimed to be a Canadian citizen, delivered money and equipment to the sleeper agents and vanished after a court in Cyprus freed him on bail. (AP Photo/FBI)
This image, dated approximately 2000, released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Monday, Oct. 31, 2011, shows an FBI surveillance photo of Tracey Lee Ann Foley of Cambridge, Mass., at the Harvard graduation of Donald Howard Heathfield. Both were in a ring of Russian sleeper spies in the U.S. shut down by federal counterintelligence agents in June of 2010 in a case code-named “Ghost Stories”. Heathfield worked in sales for an international management consulting firm and peddled strategic planning software to U.S. corporations. Foley was a real estate agent. (AP Photo/FBI)
This June 20, 2004, image released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Monday, Oct. 31, 2011, shows an FBI surveillance photo of Richard Murphy at Columbus Circle, in New York. Murphy of Montclair, N.J., was one of a ring of Russian sleeper spies shut down by federal counterintelligence agents in June of 2010 in a case code-named “Ghost Stories”. The arrest led two weeks later to the biggest spy swap between the U.S. and Russia since the Cold War. (AP Photo/FBI)
This June 20, 2004, image released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Monday, Oct. 31, 2011, shows an FBI surveillance photo of Richard Murphy in Columbus Circle, New York. Murphy of Montclair, N.J., was one of a ring of Russian sleeper spies shut down by federal counterintelligence agents in June of 2010 in a case code-named “Ghost Stories”. The arrest led two weeks later to the biggest spy swap between the U.S. and Russia since the Cold War. (AP Photo/FBI)
This undated image released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Monday, Oct. 31, 2011, shows Christopher Metsos before a meeting in Queens, NY. According to the FBI Mestos is the 11th suspected member of a ring of Russian sleeper spies shut down by federal counterintelligence agents in June of 2010 in a case code-named “Ghost Stories”, He claimed to be a Canadian citizen, delivered money and equipment to the sleeper agents and vanished after a court in Cyprus freed him on bail. (AP Photo/FBI)
This undated image released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Monday, Oct. 31, 2011, shows Richard Murphy reacting to meeting Christopher Metsos, as seen from behind, in Queens, NY. Murphy was one of the ring of Russian sleeper spies shut down by federal counterintelligence agents in June of 2010 in a case code-named “Ghost Stories”, that led two weeks later to the biggest spy swap between the U.S. and Russia since the cold War. According to the FBI Mestos is the 11th suspected ring member; he claimed to be a Canadian citizen, delivered money and equipment to the sleeper agents and vanished after a court in Cyprus freed him on bail. (AP Photo/FBI)
This June 20, 2004, image released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Monday, Oct. 31, 2011, shows an FBI surveillance photo of Michael Zottoli, right, and Richard Murphy, left, at Columbus Circle in New York. Murphy of Montclair, N.J., and Zottoli of Arlington, Va. were two of a ring of Russian sleeper spies shut down by federal counterintelligence agents in June of 2010 in a case code-named “Ghost Stories”. The arrest led two weeks later to the biggest spy swap between the U.S. and Russia since the cold War. (AP Photo/FBI)
This combination of two frame grab images taken from a surveillance video made and released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and partially obscured by the source, show Russian spy Anna Chapman in New York, ascending an escalator in the image on the left, and descending an escalator in the image on the right. FBI video tapes show Chapman, a former New York real estate agent, on a January 2010 shopping trip to Macy's in New York City's Herald Square. Her spy saga has turned her into an international celebrity. (AP Photo/FBI) (AP Photo/FBI)
Peruvian citizen Vicky Pelaez, back left, attends her father's funeral in Cuzco, Peru, Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011. Pelaez, a longtime columnist for the newspaper El Diario La Prensa in New York, was arrested in the US along with her husband Mikhail Vasenkov and eight other people, all accused of being Russian spies and were deported to Russia in a spy swap on July 2010. A Peruvian prosecutor said Pelaez apparently altered her birth and marriage records and if she returned to Peru she could be detained. (AP Photo)
Former Russian spy Anna Chapman, who was recently deported from US on charges of espionage, looks on after a meeting of the commission on economic modernization and technological development of the Russian economy, at the Skolkovo innovation centre outside Moscow, on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. (AP Photo/Sergei Karpukhin)
This undated image released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Monday, Oct. 31, 2011, shows Christopher Metsos before a meeting in Queens, NY. According to the FBI Mestos is the 11th suspected member of a ring of Russian sleeper spies shut down by federal counterintelligence agents in June of 2010 in a case code-named “Ghost Stories.” He claimed to be a Canadian citizen, delivered money and equipment to the sleeper agents, and vanished after a court in Cyprus freed him on bail. (AP Photo/FBI)
In this April 6, 2013 photo, seizure notices from the U.S. Marshals Service are posted on the door of a home at 31 Marquette Road, in Montclair, N.J. The U.S. Marshals Service says it's selling the home in Montclair whose previous owners were arrested in 2010 by the FBI as members of a Russian spy ring. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
This April 6, 2013 photo shows a home at 31 Marquette Road in Montclair, N.J. The U.S. Marshals Service says it's selling the home in Montclair whose previous owners were arrested in 2010 by the FBI as members of a Russian spy ring. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Warning signs from the U.S. Marshals Service are posted in the door and windows of a home at 31 Marquette Road, Saturday, April 6, 2013, in Montclair, N.J. The U.S. Marshals Service says it's selling the home in Montclair whose previous owners were arrested in 2010 by the FBI as members of a Russian spy ring. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Russian Anna Chapman, who was deported from the U.S. on charges of espionage, smiles as she prepares to display a fashion creation by I Love Fashion, France, during the Fall-Winter 2012 - 2013 collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Moscow, in this photo dated Thursday, March 22, 2012. Chapman was arrested in 2010 in USA on spying charges and was deported to Russia where she remains in the limelight. On Tuesday May 14, 2013, Russian security services announced they had detained a U.S. diplomat who they claim is a CIA official for allegedly trying to recruit a Russian agent. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
In this photo taken Friday, June 8, 2012, Russian ex-spy Anna Chapman, center, walks a Turkish catwalk flanked by two men posing as secret service agents at a fashion show in Antalya, Turkey. The 30-year-old Chapman was deported from the United States in 2010 along with nine other Russian sleeper agents. (AP Photo)
In this photo taken Friday, June 8, 2012, Russian ex-spy Anna Chapman walks a Turkish catwalk at a fashion show in Antalya, Turkey. The 30-year-old Chapman was deported from the United States in 2010 along with nine other Russian sleeper agents. (AP Photo)
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