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#16 - JRL 7224
New York Times
June 16, 2003
Jailing in Russia Is a Reminder That Spy Wars Still Smolder

WASHINGTON, June 15 When Moscow revealed last week that a Russian intelligence officer who had settled in the United States had been lured back home and arrested, the news was the talk of American and Russian veterans of the intelligence battles of the cold war, who viewed the incident as evidence that an old-fashioned spy war has quietly flared anew.

Aleksandr Zaporozhsky, a former colonel in the S.V.R., Russia's foreign intelligence service, has been sentenced to 18 years in jail for spying for the United States, Russian officials disclosed last week. Mr. Zaporozhsky had been living in Maryland but in November 2001 was somehow induced to return to Moscow, where he was quietly arrested and jailed.

To retired C.I.A. officers who battled the K.G.B. in the 1980's, Mr. Zaporozhsky's story seemed to echo one of the cold war's most infamous incidents, the Vitaly Yurchenko case. Mr. Yurchenko was a colonel in the K.G.B. who defected to the United States in 1985 then returned to the Soviet Union several months later. Unlike Mr. Zaporozhsky, however, Mr. Yurchenko was not arrested on his return, even though former K.G.B. officials now say they knew he had disclosed damaging secrets to the Central Intelligence Agency. Instead, the K.G.B. publicly accepted Mr. Yurchenko's explanation that he had been drugged and kidnapped by the C.I.A. and exploited his return for propaganda purposes.

Mr. Zaporozhsky has not been so fortunate. Russian news reports of his sentencing last week suggested that he had been drawn into an ambush because he was suspected of helping the United States identify and arrest Robert P. Hanssen, who admitted to being a Russian mole inside the F.B.I. In addition to the Russian news media, The Los Angeles Times reported on Mr. Zaporozhsky's case last week.

Mr. Hanssen, an F.B.I. agent who spied for the Soviet Union and then Russia intermittently over 20 years, was arrested in February 2001 on charges of espionage. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.

Apart from the timing of Mr. Hanssen's arrest, which occurred several months before Mr. Zaporozhsky was seized in Moscow, there is no available evidence to support the Russian news accounts that Mr. Zaporozhsky played a role in the Hanssen case. C.I.A. officials declined to comment on the matter.

Still, Mr. Zaporozhsky's arrest is one small sign that today, a dozen years after the end of the cold war, the hunt for spies burrowed deep into the American and Russian governments continues in Washington and Moscow.

Officials in Moscow have said that counterintelligence investigators are trying to detect spies for the United States. Russian investigators believe that agents inside their own intelligence service provided information that led to the arrests of Aldrich H. Ames and Mr. Hanssen, the two most important Russian spies discovered in the past decade inside the American government.

Mr. Ames, a C.I.A. official, was arrested in 1994 and accused of spying for Moscow for nine years. The agency has always maintained that it uncovered Mr. Ames' espionage purely through the analytical work of its counterintelligence experts, but Russian officials have never accepted that explanation. Ever since his arrest, Russian officials have been hunting for the source they believe betrayed Mr. Ames, according to current and former American and Russian officials.

New evidence suggests that the Russians may have good reason for their suspicions. In interviews, several former United States intelligence officials have said that the agency had a Russian source who helped in the Ames case. The agency did not want to reveal that information at the time of Mr. Ames's arrest, although people familiar with the case still debate how significant the assistance from the Russian source was in detecting Mr. Ames.

In the more recent Hanssen case, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has acknowledged that it received information from a Russian source that led to Mr. Hanssen's arrest. That source is not the same person who provided help in the Ames case, officials said. The Russian source in the Hanssen case provided files and other materials from Russian intelligence archives that identified Mr. Hanssen as a longtime spy for Moscow. Among the materials the source provided was the plastic that Mr. Hanssen had used to wrap classified F.B.I. documents when he left them for the Russians at clandestine drop sites in the Washington area. After obtaining the plastic from the Russian source, the bureau found Mr. Hanssen's fingerprints on the wrapping.

After handing over the files used in the Hanssen case, the Russian source defected and was paid $7 million by the United States for his assistance, according to a recent book about the case by David Wise. The Russian's identity remains a closely guarded secret in the United States government.

While the Russians are searching for American spies in Moscow, the United States is hunting for Russian moles here as well. After Mr. Hanssen's arrest in 2001, the Bush administration ousted a large number of Russian diplomats, who were actually intelligence officers operating from the Russian embassy and other missions under diplomatic cover.

Even so, American officials believe Russian intelligence is still concentrating on the United States, aggressively trying to recruit American spies who can hand over technical, economic and political secrets. Counterintelligence experts have also said that there is some evidence that suggests there was another well-placed Russian source inside the United States government in the 1990's, a source that has never been identified.

At the same time, United States counterintelligence officials are still dealing with other unfinished business from the cold war. They have examined the possibility that there was a Russian spy in the United States government in the 1980's who has gone undetected as well.

Until now, it appeared that three Russian spies in the United States government Mr. Hanssen, Mr. Ames and Edward Lee Howard, a former C.I.A. officer who defected to Moscow were responsible for betraying at least 10 Russians who were spying for the United States in the mid-1980's.

But investigators now suspect that those three may not have been responsible for all of the agents lost by the agency and the bureau in the mid-1980's. As a result, the possibility that a Russian agent is still at large has drawn the attention of American investigators, counterintelligence officials have said.

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