In a complaint detailing the arrest of a Russian spy in New York City on Monday, the FBI alleged that a U.S.-based media company owned by the Russian government collaborates with Russian agents to gather intelligence “under the cover of news media.”
Bureau agents arrested banker Evgeny Buryakov in the Bronx on Monday, charging him with economic espionage. Two other Russian government officials — both of whom are believed to have left the United States and who may have possessed diplomatic immunity — were also named in the complaint.
One portion of the FBI document alleges that an unnamed news organization, owned by the Russian state, asked Buryakov for probing questions to ask for an interview on the New York Stock Exchange. A tapped phone call shows one Russian official telling Buryakov the order “came down from the top.”
“From my training and experience, I know that the News Organization has been publicly identified by former SVR [Russian intelligence] agents as an organization that is sometimes used by Russian intelligence to gain access to and gather intelligence under the cover of the news media,” wrote FBI agent Gregory Monaghan.
A number of Russian-run news organizations exist in the United States — the most visible being Russia Today or RT, an English-language television channel owned by the Russian government. An RT spokesperson told BuzzFeed the “News Organization” mentioned is “definitely not RT.”
Other outlets include RIA-Novosti and ITAR-TASS, the latter of which appointed a former top Russian intelligence official to help run the organization in 1999.