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Russia catches 10 spies

MOSCOW, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Counterintelligence officers at Russia's Federal Security Service had a busy year and have much to celebrate after the arrest of 10 foreigners caught spying against Russia, FSB chief Nikolai Patrushev announced Tuesday.

Patrushev, who heads one of the successors of the Soviet KGB, revealed that 10 spies had been caught red-handed, while "the espionage and subversive work of more than 30 (agents) had been stopped," the official Itar-Tass news service reported.

The secretive intelligence chief told Russian media editors that the FSB, as the agency is known, had carried out 43 security operations since the start of the year, and was monitoring the activities of 130 foreign agents.

Patrushev said six Russian citizens were among the foreign spies apprehended by Russian secret service officers.

"The special services of Turkey, Pakistan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia have been stripped of their valuable informers," Patrushev said, adding that the secret services of China, Israel, Iran, North Korea and Kuwait had made attempts to spy against Russia.

Patrushev mentioned the case of a V. Ojamae, a former Russian security service officer who had been charged with spying for Britain with Estonia acting as intermediary.

Ojamae was sentenced by a Moscow court to seven years in prison on charges of espionage.

The spy chief made no mention of U.S. student John Tobin, a Fulbright scholar arrested in the central Russian city of Voronezh. Tobin had been accused of links with U.S. intelligence agencies, but stood trial on charges of possession of marijuana.

Tobin was sentenced to a one-year prison term, but was released after six months and allowed to return to the United States.

Patrushev also skipped the tit-for-tat expulsion of 100 U.S. and Russian diplomats after the United States arrested FBI agent Robert Hanssen and charged him with spying for Moscow.

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