If Russian intelligence officials are to be believed, then espionage simply isn’t supposed to be this sloppy. They say they caught a CIA agent red-handed, doing some good old-fashioned spy recruiting. The only problem – the Russians say the recruit was one of theirs and he wasn’t willing to change sides.
The man in the blue shirt – wearing the less than discreet blond wig – has been identified as Ryan Christopher Fogle.
Officially, he works an officer in the U.S. embassy in Moscow.
But the Federal Security Service – the successor the Cold War era KGB – says Fogle is really a CIA spy, who was caught trying to recruit a Russian counterterrorism officer to spy for the US.
The Russians are having a field day with this story – trotting out Fogle, and everything he allegedly had on him when he was caught including brown and blond wigs, stacks of cash, a microphone, and several pairs of dark sunglasses.
Peter Earnest is the executive director of the International Spy Museum, and a former 36-year career CIA operations officer.
“The literature is filled with stories of so called cold approaches,” he told PIX11. “That is trying to go after somebody with almost no preparation. The disguises don’t’ throw me off, because a lot of us – including myself, have used light disguises.
“In other words, you’re meeting somebody at night, in a car, you don’t want to be recognized if you’re seen casually. So that doesn’t upset me.”
But the golden nugget in Fogle’s cache is a letter – written to the recruit, basically asking that agent to betray mother Russia.
It reads in part, “We are ready to offer you $100,000 to discuss your experience, expertise and cooperation. The reward may be much greater if you are willing to answer specific questions.”
Not surprisingly – the State Department isn’t confirming – or denying the spying allegations.
“We can confirm that an officer at the U.S. embassy in Moscow was briefly detained and was released. We’ve seen the Russian foreign ministry announcement, and we have no further comment at this time”, said State Department Spokesman Patrick Ventrell.
Fogle is no longer in Russian custody…and has been released. The Russians now consider him persona non grata – and he’s been expelled from the country.