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Excerpts From U.S. Justice Department Papers on Spy Ring

"Haven't We Met?"

Following are excerpts from U.S. Justice Department papers filed with a New York court outlining the complaint against the suspected Russian agents, referred to as "illegals":


The purpose of the illegals' presence in the United States was detailed in a 2009 Russian Foreign Intelligence Service message to the defendants "Richard Murphy" and "Cynthia Murphy," the papers say. Decrypted by the FBI, the message reads in part: "You were sent to USA for long-term service trip. Your education, bank accounts, car, house etc. — all these serve one goal: fulfil your main mission, i.e. to search and develop ties in policymaking circles in U.S. and send intels [intelligence reports] to C[enter]."

Target Subjects

The papers say the defendants were told to collect information on several topics including:

U.S. policy on Internet use by terrorists

U.S. policies in Central Asia

Problems with U.S. military policy

Western assessments of Russian foreign policy

U.S. position on new START treaty

U.S. position on Afghanistan

U.S. position on Iran's nuclear program

Gold Market

In summer and fall 2009, defendant "Cynthia Murphy" sent reports about prospects for the global gold market. In October 2009, the SVR responded: "Info: on gold - v. usefull, it was sent directly (after due adaptation) to Min of Fin[ance], Min. of ec[onomic] devel[opment]."

Code Words/Phrases

Following are among the phrases used by the suspects, their handlers and, deceptively, by U.S. counterespionage officials in exchanges designed to verify a contact's identity.

"Excuse me, but haven't we met in California last summer?"

"No, I think it was the Hamptons."

"Could we have met in Beijing in 2004?"

"Yes, we might have, but I believe it was in Harbin."

"Excuse me, did we meet in Bangkok in April last year?"

"I don't know about April, but I was in Thailand in May of that year."

Reporting Problems

On Sept. 10, 2002, defendants "Juan Lazaro" and "Vicky Pelaez" were recorded discussing Moscow's disappointment with the quality of Lazaro's then-recent reporting:

Lazaro: "They tell me that my information is of no value because I didn't provide any source. It's of no use to them." …

Pelaez: "Put down any politician from here!"

Surveillance Suspicions

"You're positive no one is watching?" asks "Anna Chapman" in a meeting in a New York coffee shop with an FBI official posing as a Russian agent.


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