After defecting from Russia’s security services (FSB), Janosh Neumann expected to live in Denmark or Switzerland with a few million dollars in the bank.
Instead of living lavishly in Europe, the former spy lives in Portland and is unemployed, as detailed by Chris McGreal in the Guardian.
“I fucked up because I trusted the FBI,” Neumann told the Guardian about his past decisions. “Do not trust anything to do with the US government because they will lie to you. They promise but they don’t deliver. There is no sense in cooperating.”
Neumann has been residing in the US since 2008, where he cooperated with the CIA and FBI in hope of striking a deal which would allow him and his wife to move to Europe and start over. Almost seven years later, Neumann and his wife still live in the United States and do not know how they will pay their bills in the future.
Known in Russia as Aleksey Artamonov, Neumann worked for the FSB for ten years before taking a job at a Moscow bank, Kreditimpeks, where he was involved in numerous money laundering deals with criminal gangs.
After a deal that went wrong, his father, a retired KGB officer, warned him to shoot himself “or they will do it for you.” That was when Neumann decided to flee Russia.
He and his wife Victorya flew to the Dominican Republic, one of the only options they had with a Russian passport. They fled with the intention to disappear, and the decision to actually defect came once they started weighing their options.
“It’s a really tough step. We served one country, Russia, and for us to make a decision to go with US officials, we technically became traitors the next minute,” Neumann told the Guardian. “We could never go home. You are betraying everybody who is believing in you.”
After going to the US embassy in Santo Domingo, Neumann told the CIA everything about his past and his family. He admitted to taking bribes as a FSB official and being recruited by the bank for his contacts at the Russian security service.
As his discussions with the CIA agents went on, their questions became more and more specific and at some point they told Neumann they were moving them to Puerto Rico for safety reasons.
Living in America
They subsequently landed in Virgina, where the CIA and FBI allegedly promised them better lives.
Neumann says the FBI then told them they would not get the $US1.8 million they expected — instead, they would receive $US300,000 and a contract that paid them each $US3,500 a month for assisting the FBI with investigations.
What followed was a slow erosion in their relations with the FBI, who found them arrogant and started doubting whether they were telling the truth. Neumann said he also started pushing the US officials to provide them at least with American identity documents since the promised passports had never come.
After five years, the FBI cancelled their contracts, which ended their visas and left them both unable to work. They had to leave their flat and are now relying on part-time work and loans from a friend to get by, according to the Guardian.
After trying to get their passport and diplomas back for years, Neumann eventually gave up and hired a lawyer who filed a notice of intention to sue the CIA, The Department of Homeland Security and the immigration services.
Victorya told the Guardian she regretted leaving Moscow in the first place, not going to the US authorities.
“For me, the mistake was to leave [Moscow] initially,” she said. “It’s hugely different between why he left and why I left. I left for him. I didn’t leave because I had to leave. But we cannot go back.”
Although it is unlikely the couple would be deported to Russia, they do not have much of a life in the US either. All they can do is hope their lawsuit will at least get the FBI to give them their passports back before the immigration services show up at their door.
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