NEW YORK – Three people were charged Monday in connection with a Cold War-style Russian spy ring that tried to recruit New York City residents as intelligence sources, authorities said.
The defendants were directed by Russian intelligence official "to gather intelligence on, among other subjects, potential United States sanctions against Russian banks and the United States' efforts to develop alternative energy resources," according to a complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan.
The case was announced Monday by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and FBI officials.
Prosecutors one of the defendants, Evengy Buryakov, posed as an employee in the Manhattan office of a Russian bank. The others, Igor Sporyshev and Victor Podobnyy, held low-level diplomatic positions.
Buryakov was arrested Monday in the Bronx. The two other suspects are at large.
The three men "regularly met and communicated using clandestine methods and coded messages, in order to exchange intelligence-related information while shielding their associations with one another as (foreign intelligence) agents," the complaint said.
"These charges demonstrate our firm commitment to combating attempts by covert agents to illegally gather intelligence and recruit spies within the United States," Holder said in a statement. "We will use every tool at our disposal to identify and hold accountable foreign agents operating inside this country - no matter how deep their cover."
"Following our previous prosecution with the FBI of Russian spies, who were expelled from the United States in 2010 when their plan to infiltrate upper levels of U.S. business and government was revealed," said Bharara, the new charges "make it clear that - more than two decades after the presumptive end of the Cold War - Russian spies continue to seek to operate in our midst."