- Young Russians living and working in Washington, DC, are facing an increasingly suspicious climate in the Trump era, and their Tinder dates reportedly keep asking if they’re spies.
- They have also reportedly faced discrimination from landlords and employers, according to Politico.
- Counterintelligence experts are warning young people in Washington with security clearances to be wary of matching with Russian or Chinese nationals on dating apps.
Swiping right in Washington, DC, has apparently become an issue of national security.
Young Russians living, working, and studying in the nation’s capital are facing an increasingly suspicious climate in the Trump era, and their Tinder dates reportedly keep asking if they’re spies, according to Politico.
Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election has been the catalyst for a lot of the rekindled anti-Kremlin paranoia. But this trend seems to have escalated after the July arrest of Maria Butina, a 29-year-old alleged Russian spy who’s accused of offering to trade sex for political access.
In many cases, these young Russians believe questions about whether they’re spies are just playful jokes, but they have also reportedly faced discrimination from landlords and employers, Politico reported. Moreover, the counterintelligence community seems to view dating apps as a legitimate threat in this regard.
In this context, young people in Washington with security clearances are being warned by counterintelligence experts to be wary of connecting with Russian or even Chinese nationals on apps like Tinder.
“If she has a Russian last name, that doesn’t mean don’t engage, especially if you’re really attracted to her,” Frank Montoya Jr., a former FBI special agent and former director of the Office of the National Counterintelligence Directorate, told Politico.
But Montoya added people who think they could be targets should be on the lookout for “red flags.”
“Are they asking specific questions about what you do? Do they persist in those questions? And when are they asking you about those things? Is it after a drink? After a lot of drinks? Is it pillow talk?” Montoya said.
Indeed, it seems dating apps and social media are part of a new battlefield in the world of espionage as Russian and Chinese intelligence services, among others, look for novel means of recruiting assets.
Correspondingly, William Evanina, the top counterintelligence official in the US, in late August warned that China is using fake LinkedIn accounts to try to recruit Americans with access to government and commercial secrets.
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