The Russian news agency that reportedly worked with the Russian spy ring busted by the FBI on Monday is publishing articles that seem to be defending the alleged spies and chastising the US.
On Monday, the FBI announced that it busted a Russian spy ring in New York City that was allegedly focused on obtaining economic information including details about US markets and sanctions on Russian banks.
Evgeny Buryakov, who allegedly posed as a banker in the New York office of an unnamed Russian bank, was arrested and subsequently arraigned in Manhattan federal court.
According to a complaint filed in federal court last week two other men were involved: Victor Podobnyy and Igor Sporyshev. All three men allegedly worked for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (or SVR) and reported back to its headquarters, “Moscow Central.”
The complaint said both Podobnyy and Sporyshev had diplomatic immunity due to postings with Russia’s trade and U.N. missions. According to the US attorney for the Southern District of New York both men no longer live in the U.S. and were not arrested along with Buryakov.
The FBI complaint claimed that, at one point in 2013, Sporyshev allegedly asked Burkyakov for “help in formulating questions to be used for intelligence-gathering purposes by others associated with a leading Russian state-owned organisation.”
Although the news outlet was not identified in the FBI complaint, CNBC’s Earmon Javers tweeted earlier today that a US government official told him that the media group in question is TASS.
A US government official tells me the Russian news organisation referred to in the spy complaint is Tass.
— Eamon Javers (@EamonJavers) January 27, 2015
TASS, which is a Russian government-owned news agency, has not yet come out with a statement. However, the media group did post two articles which appear to be defending the spy ring.
In the first, TASS quotes Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich, who said there is “no proof to back up the charges has been presented” by the FBI and federal prosecutors.
“One gets an impression the US authorities have decided to resort to their favourite tactic of unfolding spy scandals. Due to Washington’s hostile stance Russian-US relations have long experienced no easy times. Apparently, the United States follows ‘the worse – the better’ principle in an attempt to start another spiral of an anti-Russian campaign,” Lukashevich was quoted as saying by TASS.
Lukashevich went on to call for Russian officials to be allowed to contact Buryakov.
“We insist on a stop to the string of provocations against Russian representatives unleashed by US secret services, and on immediate consular access to Buryakov, on the strict observance of the Russian citizen’s rights and on his release,” he also added.
TASS also posted an article on Tuesday that reported a US court “refuses to release” Buryakov on bail.
“A federal court in Manhattan on Monday refused to release on bail a Russian citizen Yevgeny Buryakov, who has been arrested in the Bronx earlier on the same day by FBI officers on charges of espionage,” the story said, adding,, “Judge Sarah Netburn decided Buryakov, 39, could not be set free on bail since he had all the reasons to flee the US. She also claimed that his ‘cover’ — a job at the New York office of Russia’s Vnesheconombank, according to some media reports ‘was blown.”
Business Insider reached out to Tass and they said they will send a statement shortly. This post will be updated when we receive it.
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