MOSCOW — The arrest and expulsion of a U.S. Embassy official this week for allegedly attempting, in a ham-handed way, to recruit a Russian intelligence officer was the second such case this year, Russian state television reported Wednesday.
The earlier arrest took place in January, when an embassy official identified as Benjamin Dillon was arrested "in the attempt to recruit a special services officer," Rossiya-1 TV reported in an interview with a man identified as an officer of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, the successor agency to the Soviet KGB. The officer was not identified and his face was hidden in shadow. He said Dillon was a CIA agent.
"We decided not to make it public and asked this operative to leave the country, which he did," the officer said. "The number of CIA agents which are conducting work against our country has not decreased since the end of the Cold War."
A U.S. Embassy spokesman, Joseph Kruzich, said the embassy would have no comment on the report.
News of the January arrest came on the heels of one of the strangest days in the long history of U.S.-Russian spying.
On Tuesday, the FSB announced, with considerable flourish, the brief detention of embassy official Ryan Christopher Fogle, whom it accused of being a CIA agent. The Russians released photos and videotapes of Fogle's arrest and interrogation after he allegedly attempted to recruit a Russian intelligence official with the promise of up to $1 million.
In a seeming throwback to the 1950s, Fogle was allegedly equipped with a compass, makeup kit, two wigs and a map of Moscow. In a more contemporary mode, he allegedly carried about $100,000 in 500-euro notes.