The FBI eavesdropped on meetings involving Russian intelligence personnel in New York City, including a suspected spy posing as a trade representative, by hiding recorders in binders containing supposedly confidential information about the energy sector, US prosecutors said, the Guardian reports.
The hours of covert recordings from 2013 were disclosed in papers filed in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday in the case of Evgeny Buryakov, a Russian citizen who US prosecutors say posed as a banker while participating in a cold war-style spy ring.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s eavesdrops enabled the agency to penetrate the workplaces of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the SVR, and hear about Buryakov’s work for it, prosecutors said.
They additionally captured one Russian agent, also charged in the case, complaining about the lack of excitement in his job, saying he expected it “would be just slightly more down to earth than in the movies about James Bond”.
The disclosure came ahead of an 4 April trial for Buryakov, who was arrested in January 2015 as prosecutors unveiled charges against him and the two other Russians, Igor Sporyshev and Victor Podobnyy.
Prosecutors say the trio conspired to gather economic intelligence for Russia, including information about US sanctions against the country, and to recruit intelligence sources in New York City.
Neither Sporyshev and Podobnyy, who made the James Bond comment, were arrested, as they enjoyed diplomatic immunity in their respective roles as a Russian trade representative and an attaché to the country’s mission to the United Nations.
Buryakov, who worked at Russian state-owned Vnesheconombank, has pleaded not guilty. Neither his lawyer nor the Russian consulate responded immediately to requests for comment.