Attorney General Eric Holder charged three Russian citizens with conducting economic espionage in New York City on Wednesday, according to a complaint that details secret meetings, coded dispatches and attempts to recruit local citizens into the spy ring.
The complaint alleges that three Russian operatives met on at least 48 occasions in clandestine locations in Manhattan and the Bronx from March 2012 to September 2014. The suspects allegedly discussed methods to recruit local New Yorkers by falsely promising rewards in exchange for private documents.
Evgeny Buryakov, 39, stands accused of gathering field intelligence on topics ranging from U.S. sanctions against Russia to developments in the alternative energy sector. He allegedly gathered the information while posing as a private employee of a Russian bank.
Igor Sporyshev, 40, a trade representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, is accused of relaying covert assignments from Moscow, while partnering with Victor Podobnyy, 27, a diplomatic attache, to analyze the “the fruits of Buryakov’s intelligence-gathering efforts,” according to a complaint filed by the Department of Justice.
Potential recruits included several employees of major companies and young women associated with a major university. “The attempt by foreign nations to illegally gather economic and other intelligence information in the United States through covert agents is a direct threat to the national security of the United States,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin in a public statement.
An investigation was opened against the three suspects shortly after a 2010 bust of a 10-person Russian spy ring. Buryakov was arrested on Monday in New York, and was due to appear in federal court in Manhattan later the same day. Sporyshev and Podobnyy no longer reside in the United States and have not been arrested. Both were protected by diplomatic immunity while they held their diplomatic positions in the U.S.