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May 14th, 2013
05:50 PM ET

Former CIA officer says 'some theater' involved in Russia catching American spy

The Russians say they caught an American spy red-handed, and they are kicking him out of the country. Ryan Fogle - if that is his real name - works as a diplomat at the U.S. embassy in Moscow. At least that's his day job, according to the Russians. The FSB - Russia's successor to the KGB - believes he is actually a CIA agent.

The Russians say they arrested him while he was trying to recruit a Russian official. Russian TV cameras were there when Fogle was hauled away. The Russians say he had a whole spy kit on him, complete with a wad of cash, a compass, maps, and wigs. The FSB also claims he had a letter on him addressed to a recruit, with instructions on creating a Gmail account for secret communications.

Former CIA officer Peter Brookes said the letter could have been planted, saying CIA agents would not be caught with such items in their pockets.

"There could be some theater here," said Brookes. "If they did get someone involved in espionage, they may want to deter further espionage, as well as Russians from participating in espionage."

Fogle was brought in for questioning, and later turned over to the U.S. embassy. But Russia has ordered him out of the country.

There has been no comment on this incident from the U.S. embassy.

The Russian Foreign Ministry, alluding to the difficulties between the U.S. and Russia in the Boston Marathon terror attacks, said in a statement Tuesday, "While the presidents of our countries reaffirmed their readiness to expand bilateral cooperation, including the cooperation of intelligence agencies in fighting international terrorism, such provocative actions in the spirit of the 'cold war' does not contribute to building mutual trust."

"They're playing the victim here, it's the height of hypocrisy," said Brookes. "One of the most aggressive intelligence services right here in Washington, in the United States, is the Russians, probably along with the Chinese. So this is a joke."

"My view is there's no such thing as a friendly intelligence service, they don't tell you everything," said Brookes. "But there is information that the United States needs to know overseas, for our national security."

The current incident will be "a blip" on long-term U.S.-Russia relations, said Brookes.

"There could be a tit for a tat, one additional officer getting kicked out," said Brookes. "My expectation is that this was a deterrence, it was a signal, it will probably be go away very quickly."

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