The FBI yesterday arrested 10 members of an alleged Russian spy ring on “deep-cover assignments” to infiltrate “policymaking circles” in the U.S. and report back to Moscow. One alleged Russian agent was not yet in federal custody.
The group, dubbed the “Illegals,” was accused of being sent by the Russian intelligence agency SVR to enter the U.S., assume false identities and become “deep-cover” Americans.
Their goal was to “become sufficiently ‘Americanized’ such that they can gather information about the United States for Russia and can successfully recruit sources who are in, or are able to infiltrate, United States policymaking circles,” according to federal criminal complaints.
They were accused of collecting information ranging from research programs on nuclear warheads and the global gold market to trying to obtain information about applicants for CIA positions. Most are believed to be originally from Russia.
A message to two agents from Moscow Center read: “Your education, bank accounts, car, house etc. — all these serve one goal: Fulfill your main mission, i.e. to search and develop ties in policymaking circles in US and send intels to C[enter].”
Each faces five years in prison for failing to register as a foreign agent. Nine face money laundering charges with a maximum 20-year sentence.