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Russian National Pleads Guilty to Spying in US

  • VOA News

FILE - In this Feb. 11, 2015, courtroom sketch, Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna Skotko, foreground left, addresses the court at the arraignment of Russian citizen Evgeny Buryakov.

FILE - In this Feb. 11, 2015, courtroom sketch, Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna Skotko, foreground left, addresses the court at the arraignment of Russian citizen Evgeny Buryakov.

A Russian national has pleaded guilty to conspiring to spy for Russian intelligence in the United States, the Department of Justice said in a release Friday.

“Evgeny Buryakov pleaded guilty to covertly working as a Russian agent in the United States without notifying the Attorney General,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin.

Buryakov was accused of posing as an employee of a Russian bank in New York City to gain information for Moscow's foreign intelligence agency, known as the SVR.

"More than two decades after the end of the Cold War, Russian spies still seek to operate in our midst under the cover of secrecy," said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara who likened it to a "plotline for a Cold War-era movie."

Buryakov will be sentenced on May 25, 2016. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Buryakov's arrest in January 2015, after he held multiple secret meetings with an undercover FBI agent that Buryakov believed to be an energy company analyst.

Prosecutors say Buryakov conspired with two other Russian men to gather U.S. economic intelligence, including details about U.S. sanctions against Moscow. He is also accused of trying to recruit New York residents as intelligence contacts.

The undercover agent supplied Buryakov with binders of energy data that also contained concealed microphones, allowing the FBI to eavesdrop on conversations between Buryakov and his handlers at the Russian intelligence agency.

The documents say recordings of those conversations "make clear" that Buryakov was getting orders from the SVR and transmitting information back to Moscow.

His alleged partners, Igor Sporyshev and Victor Podobnyy, were not arrested because they had diplomatic immunity. Sporyshev is a former Russian trade representative and Podobnyy was an attache to the Russian mission to the United Nations. Both have left the United States.

Federal prosecutors have compared this case to the high-profile arrest of 10 Russian intelligence agents in New York in 2010. Those agents pled guilty and were deported to Russia as part of a prisoner swap.

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