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July 12, 2010

US Detains 12th Person in Russian Spy Case

The United States has detained a 12th person in connection with a Russian spy ring that had been operating in the U.S.

Federal law enforcement officials said Tuesday they are holding the 23-year-old Russian man for immigration violations and expect to deport him.

They say they began investigating the man several months ago when his name surfaced in connection to the other spies. But officials also say they do not have enough evidence for the U.S. Justice Department to pursue a criminal case against him.

The United States arrested 10 Russian agents last month and traded them Friday for four Russians jailed in Russia on charges of spying for the West. The two sides made the exchange at Vienna's international airport.

An 11th person connected to the spy ring was arrested in Cyprus but fled from authorities after he was released on bail.

On Sunday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in an interview on CBS television that the 10 Russian secret agents had received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Moscow.

He said Russia considered the 10 spies to be very important to its intelligence-gathering operations. But he said the spies did not pass any classified information to Moscow.

On Monday, The Washington Post newspaper said a telephone call from Russian spy Anna Chapman to her father led U.S. security officials to speed up the arrests of her and the nine other Russian agents working in the United States.

It said U.S. officials had been planning to arrest Chapman and the other Russians since mid-June. But after the phone call they feared one of the spies, Richard Murphy, would not return to the United States from a trip to Moscow if they did not act quickly.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.