The Slatest

Suspected Russian Spy Found Working at U.S. Embassy in Moscow for More Than a Decade

Russian policemen stand guard in front of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow on December 30, 2016. Russia on December 30, 2016.
Russian policemen stand guard in front of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow on Dec. 30, 2016.
Alexander Nemenov/Getty Images

A Russian national who worked at the American embassy in Moscow for more than a decade is believed by American counterintelligence officials to be a Russian spy, the Guardian reported Thursday. The woman was hired by the U.S. Secret Service and spent years working in the embassy’s inner sanctum until she aroused suspicion in 2016 during a routine security sweep that uncovered she had regular unauthorized meetings with members of the Russian security agency FSB.

The State Department’s Regional Security Office (RSO) notified the Secret Service of the potential security breach, but instead of launching a full-scale internal investigation to see the extent of what had been compromised, the Secret Service quietly dismissed her from her job many months later, in the summer of 2017, after the state department revoked her security clearance, according to the Guardian. The woman, the Guardian reports, was “understood to have had access to the agency’s intranet and email systems, which gave her a potential window into highly confidential material including the schedules of the president and vice-president.” A senior administration official, however, told CNN “this was not an issue of national security.” “We figure that all of them are talking to the FSB, but she was giving them way more information than she should have,” the official said. “We knew it was happening and it was just a process of playing it out and giving her specific information that we saw her give back to the FSB.”

“The US Secret Service recognizes that all Foreign Service Nationals (FSN) who provide services in furtherance of our mission, administrative or otherwise, can be subjected to foreign intelligence influence. This is of particular emphasis in Russia,” the Secret Service said in a statement. “At no time, in any US Secret Service office, have FSNs been provided or placed in a position to obtain national security information.”