Secret government agent was in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle
Photo courtesy of NBC News
By Charlie Gstalder | Staff Writer
A top spy for the CIA was extracted from Russia because of fears of his safety, according to recent reports from CNN. For more than a decade, the CIA had been successfully groomed a midlevel Russian government official, to be its primary Kremlin source. Eventually, the spy was able to reach the highest levels of the Russian government, being close enough to photograph key documents on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s desk.
CNN reported on Sept. 9 that in early 2017, the CIA was forced to extract one of its top spies from Russia. The informant was one of the most valuable assets to the CIA since he was able to relay information directly from Putin. It was reported by CNN that this spy was the person responsible for notifying the U.S. government of Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
CNN obtained its information from anonymous sources in the U.S. government.
The New York Times also reported that after the CIA first offered to remove the informant over fears of their safety, the spy refused.
The decision to extract the spy was made shortly after President Donald Trump discussed highly classified intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Ksilyak in May 2017.
This disclosure to the Russian officials, while not about the spy specifically, sparked new discussions about extracting the spy.
Fears were escalated when Trump confiscated the interpreter’s notes from his meeting with Putin at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
The second time the CIA offered an extraction, the spy agreed.
The informant allegedly revealed that the hacking of the 2016 presidential election was orchestrated by Putin himself and that the Russian government favored Trump.
Following his extraction, American intelligence agencies were unable to monitor Russia’s potential efforts to hack the 2018 midterm elections.
The Times also reported that the extraction was instead caused by officials’ fear regarding media coverage, speculating how the U.S. was able to learn about the election interference.
Xavier students were concerned about the nature of the extraction. “I mean, I can’t understand why they would pull our top informant when to the public, it makes it look like we’re doing Putin a favor… but it just makes it more suspicious than it already is,” first-year Philosophy, Politics and the Public major Kathleen O’Connor said.
“It makes sense to pull him… The dead can’t do anything for us. We now have stuff we can pull from in future interactions in Russia,” first-year biomedical science major Elaina Sperry said.
Russia used Interpol to request that the U.S. reveal information regarding a former Kremlin official who disappeared while on vacation in Montenegro in 2017.
Russia believes this official is the spy in question.
Russian state sponsored news agencies have begun publishing reports that the man believed to be the informant was a low-level member of the government who had been fired years ago.
James R. Clapper, Jr., the former Director of National Intelligence, said he had no knowledge of the decision to conduct an extraction.
He also told The New York Times that “there was little doubt that revelations about the extraction were going to make recruiting assets in Russia even more difficult than it already is.”