The FBI announced yesterday the arrests of 11 people associated with an alleged Russian spy ring. The arrests were made on Sunday in Massachusetts, Virginia, New Jersey and New York. Details coming out of the FBI reports read like a Russian spy novel — if not stranger. Authorities worked for at least seven years to gather information about the suspects, who were all charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and failing to register as guests of a foreign government. The maximum sentences for these crimes are five to 20 years.
The FBI reports reveal an operation for the S.V.R., Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service, to plant Russian spies in the U.S. to gather intelligence and recruit more agents. The methods the suspects used to communicate were, according to the criminal complaints filed in federal court yesterday, much like those used in old-fashioned spy thrillers mixed with modern technology. Some of their exchanges involved invisible ink and letters sent by shortwave burst transmission, as well as embedded coded texts in images on the Internet.
We talk with Scott Shane, the National Security reporter for The New York Times, who has been reporting on this story of alleged espionage.