MOSCOW -- A U.S. diplomat was ordered yesterday to leave the country after the Kremlin's security services said he tried to recruit a Russian agent, and they displayed tradecraft tools that seemed straight from a cheap spy thriller: wigs, packets of cash, a knife, map and compass, and a letter promising millions for "long-term cooperation." The FSB, the successor agency to the Soviet-era KGB, identified the diplomat as Ryan Fogle, a third secretary at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, detaining him briefly overnight.
It alleged Fogle was a CIA officer trying to recruit a Russian counterterrorism officer who specializes in the volatile Caucasus region in southern Russia, where the two Boston Marathon bombing suspects had their ethnic roots.
Fogle was handed over to U.S. Embassy officials, declared persona non grata and ordered to leave Russia immediately. He has diplomatic immunity, which protects him from arrest.
The State Department would only confirm that Fogle worked as an embassy employee but wouldn't give any details about his employment record or responsibilities in Russia. Some officials also referred inquiries to the CIA, which declined to comment.
Fogle was the first American diplomat to be publicly accused of spying in Russia in about a decade. While relations between the two countries have been strained, officials in both Washington and Moscow sought to play down the incident.
The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul to appear today in connection with the case. McFaul said he would not comment on the spying allegation.
Russian officials expressed indignation the United States would carry out an espionage operation at a time when the two countries have been working to improve counterterrorism cooperation. "Such provocative actions in the spirit of the Cold War do nothing to strengthen mutual trust," the Foreign Ministry said.
Russia's Caucasus region includes the provinces of Chechnya and Dagestan. The suspects in the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings -- Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his elder brother, Tamerlan, who was killed in a manhunt -- are ethnic Chechens. Tamerlan spent six months last year in Dagestan, now the center of an Islamic insurgency.
U.S. investigators have been working with the Russians to try to determine whether Tamerlan Tsarnaev had established any contacts with militants in Dagestan.
Despite the end of the Cold War, Russia and the United States still maintain active espionage operations against each other. Last year, several Russians were convicted in separate cases of spying for the United States and sentenced to lengthy prison sentences.