US accuses diplomat of spying and expels him

THE UNITED STATES has expelled a Russian diplomat it claims to have caught red-handed in the act of espionage, just days after Russia made a similar expulsion in Moscow.

The incident, a classic Cold War tit-for-tat, may be related to something much less exciting than James Bond-style capers, namely visas.

Stanislav Borisovich Gusev, a second secretary in the Russian embassy in Washington, was allegedly caught outside the State Department with an eavesdropping device. He was detained by the FBI, then handed back to the Russians. Declared persona non grata, he has been ordered to leave the country within 10 days.

It was only last week that the Russians arrested Cheri Leberknight, a second secretary in the US embassy in Moscow, for espionage. She, too, was said to have had eavesdropping equipment for listening in to surveillance agents, as well as equipment to allow agents to communicate with US officers. She was reportedly on her way to a rendezvous, but as the location was marked on a map, it would seem she was no superspy.

US officials said that they had been watching the Russian for some time, which suggests that they picked their time carefully. A listening device was found in a "sensitive area" of the State Department, they said, on the seventh floor. No senior official had used the conference room involved for some time; it is likely both that the device was not in a high-security area and that America was waiting to use the device against the Russians.

In an unusual statement, the Russians clearly indicated they saw it as a tit-for-tat response. Boris Labusov, spokesman for Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service, said: "I think there is a certain sequence here. We think this detention and the further expulsion of the Russian diplomat from the United States can be regarded as a reaction of the American side to the latest events in Moscow connected with the detention and expulsion of an American diplomat. As far as the Russian side is concerned, we gave up the principle of an eye for an eye long ago."

The day before the Russians "lifted" Ms Leberknight, the US charged a navy codebreaker, Daniel King, with selling secrets to Russia. Both sides said that was unrelated.

What may be related is that America and Russia are currently tussling over the issue of visas for their intelligence officers to operate under diplomatic cover in each other's country. Many officers from both sides will be accredited, known to their host governments and in some cases co-operating openly with them. In July, the US asked the Russian national security adviser to cut back on the number of intelligence officers in Washington, claiming that the numbers had reached Cold War levels. That security adviser was Vladimir Putin, now Russia's Prime Minister.

It seems unlikely that this will be an end to the saga. The logical reaction for the Russians would be to up both the numbers and the seniority; first secretaries in the US embassy may soon be checking their luggage. But despite the growing problems in US-Russian relations over Chechnya, neither side wants a fundamental split.

The Russians may suspect that - for all its reluctance to let their people in - America has gone over the top in deploying its intelligence officers. In the last few years, other countries, including Germany, have complained at the number of Americans operating on their soil.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss