The US Secret Service has refuted what they claim is an “irresponsible and inaccurate” Thursday report by The Guardian, in which the UK paper claims that a suspected Russian spy had been working “undetected in the heart of the American embassy in Moscow for more than a decade.”
According to the Secret Service, they provided The Guaridain with “background information clearly refuting unfounded information.”
The Guardian report reads in part:
US counter-intelligence investigators discovered a suspected Russian spy had been working undetected in the heart of the American embassy in Moscow for more than a decade, the Guardian has learned.
The Russian national had been hired by the US Secret Service and is understood to have had access to the agency’s intranet and email systems, which gave her a potential window into highly confidential material including the schedules of the president and vice-president.
The woman had been working for the Secret Service for years before she came under suspicion in 2016 during a routine security sweep conducted by two investigators from the US Department of State’s Regional Security Office (RSO). –The Guardian
The paper then claims that the woman was having “regular and unauthorized meetings” with members of Russia’s top security agency, the FSB, and that the RSO sounded the alarm in January, 2017 – which the Secret Service reportedly ignored until letting her go several months later, “possibly to contain any potential embarassment.”
According to the Guardian, her firing was purposefully concealed by US officials amid the mass removeal of 750 US personnel from its embassy staff of 1,200.
“The Secret Service is trying to hide the breach by firing [her],” the source said. “The damage was already done but the senior management of the Secret Service did not conduct any internal investigation to assess the damage and to see if [she] recruited any other employees to provide her with more information. –The Guardian
The Secret Service hit back shortly after publication, writing in a statement:
On Thursday, August 2, 2018, The Guardian published an article by Nick Hopkins entitled, Exclusive: suspected Russian spy found working at US embassy in Moscow. The article is wrought with irresponsible and inaccurate reporting based on the claims of “anonymous” sources. Prior to the Guardian publishing their article, the U.S. Secret Service provided their editor with our official statement as well as background information clearly refuting unfounded information.
The agency goes on to note that it was the woman’s duty to interface with the Russian government, “including the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), the Russian Ministry of the Interior (MVD), and the Russian Federal Protective Service (FPS) in furtherance of Secret Service interests.
The Secret Service then cites a factual error based on US protocols:
In the article, Hopkins and The Guardian claim the “Russian is understood to have had full access to secret data during decade at embassy.” FSNs working under the direction of the U.S. Secret Service have never been provided or placed in a position to obtain, secret or classified information as erroneously reported. -US Secret Service
The agency also asserts that the Guardian‘s claim that they “failed to act on information provided by the U.S. State Department is categorically false,” along with the timing of the woman’s termination aren’t true.
The U.S. Secret Service Moscow Resident Office closed in August of 2017 due to lack of cooperation from the Russian government – entirely unrelated to the termination of the FSN in question. Reports the Secret Service attempted to minimize or deliberately not disclose the U.S. State Department’s findings are categorically false. -US Secret Service
Lastly, the Secret Service said that any questions of a potential security “breach” of U.S. Secret Service systems, information or reporting ” is unfounded as FSNs work on, and support, only projects with the intent of providing and/or sharing the information with the Russian government in furtherance of Secret Service and USG interests.”
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