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December 19, 2014

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Russia says another alleged US spy expelled

MOSCOW — Russian state television aired footage Wednesday from Russia's security services claiming that another alleged American spy was expelled earlier this year.

Russia on Tuesday ordered U.S. diplomat Ryan Fogle to leave the country after the security services claimed to have caught him red-handed trying to recruit a Russian agent in Moscow. The FSB, the successor to the Soviet-era KGB, alleged that Fogle, a third secretary at the U.S. Embassy, worked for the CIA.

In the footage aired Wednesday, a man sitting in near darkness who was identified only as an FSB operative said a "CIA operative" was expelled in January. He said the FSB then asked its U.S. counterparts to halt this "disturbing activity."

The man also claimed the Russians had been shadowing Fogle since he began his Moscow posting in 2011.

There was no immediate way for The Associated Press to confirm that the person in the video was indeed an FSB operative.

The U.S. Embassy had no comment on the video.

U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul was summoned Wednesday to the Russian Foreign Ministry, which said it handed him a formal protest over the incident. McFaul spent about a half hour at the ministry and left without speaking to journalists.

McFaul has had a difficult time in Moscow since he took up his post in January 2012. He provoked the ire of Russian officials when one of his first acts was to invite a group of opposition activists and rights advocates to the U.S. embassy.

Fogle, 29, appeared to be the first American diplomat in Moscow publicly accused of spying in about a decade.

Mark Galeotti, a professor at New York University who studies the Russian security services, said these kinds of spying incidents happen with some frequency, but usually they are dealt with quietly. He said the public exposure of Fogle suggests Russia is using it for domestic political purposes.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has accused the United States of meddling in Russia's political affairs, has portrayed opposition leaders as American stooges and ordered a crackdown on Russian nongovernmental organizations that receive foreign funding.

The U.S. spy scandal and the pictures of Fogle's detention, which have been splashed across state television, reinforce the message that the U.S. remains a threat.

The State Department confirmed that Fogle worked as an embassy employee but would give no details about his job. The CIA declined comment.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has ordered Fogle to leave Russia immediately but his exact whereabouts were not known Wednesday.

Despite the end of the Cold War, Russia and the United States still maintain active espionage operations against each other. Last year, several Russians were convicted in separate cases of spying for the U.S. and sentenced to lengthy prison sentences.

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