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Russian Spies Arrested in the United States


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Eight individuals were arrested Sunday for allegedly carrying out long-term, "deep-cover" assignments in the United States on behalf of the Russian Federation, the Justice Department announced today. Two additional defendants were also arrested Sunday for allegedly participating in the same Russian intelligence program within the United States.


In total, 11 defendants, including the 10 arrested, are charged in two separate criminal complaints with conspiring to act as unlawful agents of the Russian Federation within the United States. Federal law prohibits individuals from acting as agents of foreign governments within the United States without prior notification to the U.S. Attorney General. Nine of the defendants are also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering.


The defendants known as "Richard Murphy" and "Cynthia Murphy" were arrested yesterday by FBI agents at their residence in Montclair, N.J., and are expected to appear in federal court in Manhattan today. Vicky Pelaez and the defendant known as "Juan Lazaro" were arrested yesterday at their residence in Yonkers, N.Y., and are expected to appear in federal court in Manhattan today. Anna Chapman was arrested in Manhattan yesterday and is expected to appear in federal court in Manhattan today.


The defendants known as "Michael Zottoli" and "Patricia Mills" were arrested yesterday at their residence in Arlington, Va., and are appearing in federal court in Alexandria, Va., today. Defendant Mikhail Semenko was arrested yesterday at his residence in Arlington and is appearing in federal court in Alexandria today. In addition, the defendants known as "Donald Howard Heathfield" and "Tracey Lee Ann Foley" were arrested at their residence in Boston yesterday and are appearing in federal court in Boston today. The defendant known as "Christopher R. Metsos" remains at large.


The charges are filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The charge of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government without notifying the U.S. Attorney General carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. All the defendants are charged with this violation. The charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. All the defendants except Chapman and Semenko are charged with this violation.


This case is the result of a multi-year investigation conducted by the FBI; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York; and the Counterespionage Section and the Office of Intelligence within the Justice Department’s National Security Division.


The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Farbiarz, Glen Kopp and Jason Smith of the Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and Trial Attorneys Kathleen Kedian and Richard Scott of the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.


The charges and allegations contained in the criminal complaints are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


Download the documents:


Complaint #1 (PDF)

Complaint #2 (PDF)

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Press Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, 6/29/10


Q What was the President's reaction to the arrest yesterday of the suspected Russian spies?


MR. GIBBS: I'm just going to leave this at -- I mean, obviously the President was fully and appropriately informed. This was a law enforcement action, and law enforcement acted appropriately. And he did not have a personal reaction that I know of.


Q Was he aware of the possibility of these arrests before yesterday, or was yesterday the first time that --


MR. GIBBS: No, he was -- he's been briefed on this a number of times.


Q Going back how far?


MR. GIBBS: Not something I'm going to get specific on.


Q And this comes, obviously, less than a week after the meetings here with Medvedev. Is there any concern that this hurts the chances of resetting this relationship, given that there are allegations that the Russians were spying against us?


MR. GIBBS: No, look, I think that if you -- I do not believe that this will affect the reset of our relationship with Russia. We have made great progress in the past year and a half, working on issues of mutual concern from a New START treaty to working together on things like in the United Nations dealing with North Korea and Iran. So I do not think that this will affect those relations.


Q Yes, Robert, when the President met with President Medvedev, did they discuss at all the Russian spy ring?




Q A few follow-ups -- one, did the President know about this Russian spy deal before he met with Medvedev?




Q Robert, in the past when Russian spies have been caught in the United States, the United States has registered its displeasure with this in some diplomatic form or another. When Robert Hanssen was arrested, the United States government kicked out 50 Russian diplomats. Are you all contemplating anything like that?


MR. GIBBS: Well, obviously I’d point you to the Department of State about the conversations that have taken place and continue to take place between State Department officials and Russian officials.


Q Do you find this to be something that is offensive, or simply business as usual?


MR. GIBBS: Look, obviously this is something that was -- that is important and was treated as such yesterday.


Q Can you -- I’m sorry, can you elaborate a little bit, though? I mean, the President did just invite the President of Russia here to visit with him -- brought him for burgers and the whole bit. There’s no --


MR. GIBBS: Peter, I really do not want to get into talking about active law enforcement investigations or intelligence matters.


Q Well, but it’s also about the relationship between two countries, and you don’t find it offensive that this other country you’re trying to build a new relationship with is still spying on you?


MR. GIBBS: I said that -- I said earlier that I did not think that this would affect our moves to reset the relationship, and we believe that.


Q Do they have license to do whatever they want without any consequences?


MR. GIBBS: Obviously that’s not the case, because there were multiple arrests that were made.


Q All right, this one, this one, I want to stick with this subject. The timing -- the timing. Was the President completely satisfied by whoever organized the operation this week that this was the time that it needed to be done, right after the summit?


MR. GIBBS: Well, look, again, I’m not going to get into the specifics of discussing the law enforcement or the intelligence portions of this.


Q I’m just saying, the President --


MR. GIBBS: No, no, I understand. Let me finish my answer. This was an action that was taken by law enforcement, handled that way, handled appropriately, and done in a timely manner. So --


Q The Russians --


MR. GIBBS: Good luck trying to get -- (laughter.)


Q I feel obliged, since I’m the only Russian here, to raise the point -- (laughter.)


MR. GIBBS: Now I’m like the straight man for a bunch of people standing on the side.


Q But I am the only official Russian here. (Laughter.) And as such, I want to raise the point that is being raised by my government officials who say this is a deliberate attempt to undermine, frankly, the President’s policies, and some people even say the President himself. What’s your response?


MR. GIBBS: The President of Russia, I assume you’re talking about.


Q The President of the United States and his policy of reset.


MR. GIBBS: Oh, well, I see.


Q You say it will not affect the policy of reset.


MR. GIBBS: This will not.


Q But what about an attempt to do that?


MR. GIBBS: I can’t speak to that. There are -- again, I described this, I think accurately, as a law enforcement activity. It was handled as such. It was done correctly. I do not -- again, I do not believe that this will have a great effect on our efforts to reset our relationship with Russia.


Q Just to follow up, the President had absolutely no influence over the timing of the arrests, one way or the other?


MR. GIBBS: This is -- again, this is dictated by law enforcement.


Q Was that a yes or -- that was a no, he did not? I want to be clear about it.


MR. GIBBS: I was. The timing of this was dictated by law enforcement.


Q Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Phil Gordon said today that President Obama said in this reset of the relationship with Russia there would be areas of agreement and disagreement and we should see this spying issue in that context. Does the administration agree with that assessment?


MR. GIBBS: Savannah, I’d want to look at Phil’s full remarks before I comment on it.


Q Is the administration considering any diplomatic consequence to Russia’s spying?


MR. GIBBS: Well, again, as I said, there are -- I will let the State Department read out the conversations that have been had on this issue.


Q Well, is it being considered?


MR. GIBBS: The State Department can give you that answer.


Q I want to repeat a question that was asked earlier, because I’m not sure I heard the answer. Did the President or White House staff give any guidance as to the timing of these arrests?


MR. GIBBS: None that I’m aware of, no.


Q They weren’t -- you weren’t given any guidance? You didn’t know about it?


MR. GIBBS: No, no, no.


Q Did you give any guidance --


Q Oh, oh, oh.


MR. GIBBS: No, no -- obviously, yes. Let me -- now that the -- obviously we were aware of --


Q Then you’ll come back?


MR. GIBBS: Obviously we did not -- I am not aware of any guidance that was given to change that.


Q So you were aware -- hang on a minute. You were aware that these arrests were going to be made, you just didn’t know about the timing?


MR. GIBBS: We were aware of the timing.


Q Thank you, Robert. During the joint press session with President Medvedev on Thursday, the President made reference to the fact President Medvedev had opened a Twitter account, and as the President himself has one, that some day they would be tweeting and possibly replace the red phones that they’re using. Have they been in touch at all since the events that happened on Saturday either by Twitter or the phone?


MR. GIBBS: That was quite the lead, wasn’t it? (Laughter.) I’m not entirely sure where the whole beginning of that was going. I do not know the nature of how many times they might have spoken Sunday in Toronto. They have not been in touch, that I’m aware of, yesterday or today.


Q Are there any red phones in the White House? (Laughter.)


MR. GIBBS: None that I have found.


Q Were you aware of the timing -- I don’t mean to -- just to close up one loop. Were you aware of the timing of this arrest before the Medvedev visit?


MR. GIBBS: I don’t know the answer to that. I will consult everyone’s --


Q So you don’t know if you were aware of the timing of the arrests before Medvedev’s visit?


MR. GIBBS: I don’t know the answer to that. I will check his Twitter account.



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  • 2 weeks later...



They didn't even protect their information on there computers. How they can even be designated as spies is an insult.


The only one that was worth anything was the one that got away. At least he had brain.


To the Russians; Insulting that you thought of your own group as spies. You should bury your heads in shame.

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