[QODLink]
Europe

Russia rejects US espionage accusations

Russian Foreign Ministry says it is bewildered and refers to reports of spy attempts on the US fabrications.

Last Modified: 24 Oct 2013 15:19
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
The reports threaten to strain already tenuous relations between Russia and the USA [File: EPA]

Russia has angrily dismissed espionage accusations against a Russian cultural exchange official in Washington, saying the US claims were unfounded.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday that it was "bewildered" by reports that the head of a Russian government-run cultural exchange programme tried to recruit young Americans as intelligence assets.

The "fabrications they contained had nothing to do with the reality", the ministry statement said and demanded that the US government "unequivocally and publicly disavow the ill-intended attempts to cast a shadow on the activities of the Russian Center for Science and Culture".

AP news agency reported on Wednesday quoting a US intelligence official as saying that the FBI was looking into whether Yury Zaytsev, the head of a Russian government-run cultural exchange programme, tried to recruit young Americans as intelligence assets.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the probe was still under way.

Zaytsev dismissed the accusations as an attempt to hurt ties between Moscow and Washington.

"It's a shame that echoes of the Cold War are heard in Russian-American relations from time to time," Russia's Itar-Tass news agency quoted him as saying.

Evgeniy Khorishko, spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Washington, also denied the suspicions, telling Itar-Tass that "such horror stories smack of Cold War times."

The magazine Mother Jones, which first reported the story, said the organisation run by Zaytsev has footed the bill for about 130 Americans to visit Russia. His centre offers language lessons and cultural programmes. The magazine said Zaytsev or his associates had built files on participants, including one who had been an adviser to a US state governor.

The magazine said FBI agents have been interviewing Americans who participated in the programme.

Zaytsev's case comes amid friction in US-Russian ties, which have been strained over differences on Syria, Moscow's decision to give refuge to former National Security Agency systems analyst Edward Snowden and the Kremlin's crackdown on the opposition and rights activists.

A flurry of spy cases has added to the tension.

336

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
People are starving in southern Somalia while relief efforts are blocked by government and rebel fighting.
Some scientists say authorities in favour of nuclear energy tend to deny the negative results of researchers.
Report on child sex abuse in British Asian community highlights issues that may affect the entire nation.
Taliban makes quick gains in Afghanistan with little opposition from Afghan army as US withdrawal begins.
Experts from Minamata, Japan check for signs of mercury illnesses in Ontario, Canada.
join our mailing list