The FBI in New York has arrested one Russian national for spying on Monday and indicted two others who escaped the United States. The FBI alleges the three Russians—Evgeny Buryakov, Igor Sporyshev, and Victor Podobnyy—were working as “deep cover” agents of Russia’s SVR intelligence service with day jobs inside a Russian bank, the Russian trade mission, and the Russian diplomatic mission to the United Nations, respectively. (“Others known and unknown” also allegedly spied.) The Justice Department said Poryshev and Podobnyy no longer reside in the U.S. and are protected by diplomatic immunity.
All three men allegedly tried to recruit New York City residents as intelligence sources for Russia, attempted to gather intelligence, and transmitted intelligence reports to SVR headquarters in Moscow. The FBI said Moscow directed the spies to gather intelligence on potential U.S. sanctions against Russia and U.S. efforts to develop alternative energy resources.
The FBI said the defendants “used coded language to signal that they needed to meet, and then met to exchange intelligence information, whether verbally, in written form, or both. These types of face-to-face meetings and the exchange of hand-written notes are the preferred methods for exchanging intelligence assignments and reports because they carry minimal risk of electronic interception.”
The FBI said it “lawfully obtained multiple audio records” from within a “secure office in Manhattan used by SVR agents” to send intelligence back to Moscow.
An unnamed “leading Russian state-owned news organization” was allegedly “used for intelligence gathering purposes.”