Russia is ordering the immediate departure of a U.S. embassy employee it accuses of trying to recruit a Russian intelligence officer to work for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
Acting deputy State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell confirms that an officer of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow was briefly detained and released.
“We have seen the Russian Foreign Ministry announcement and have no further comment at this time,” Ventrell said.
Russia’s Federal Security Service says it briefly detained a U.S. citizen it identified as Ryan Fogle, who it says was caught with special technical equipment, disguises, a large amount of cash and a letter to the Russian he was attempting to recruit.
Russian media quoted the letter as offering the Russian intelligence officer $100,000 to begin, and up to $1 million for long-term cooperation with the CIA.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a session of the Arctic Council in Sweden. State Department spokesman Ventrell said allegations of spying would not disrupt efforts to convene an international peace conference on Syria.
“We are very much committed to working with the Russians toward this peace conference, and the secretary’s active diplomacy on that continues,” Ventrell said.
In a statement Tuesday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that at a time when the Russian and U.S. presidents have declared a readiness to expand bilateral cooperation, “such provocative actions in the spirit of the Cold War by no means promote the strengthening of mutual trust.”