Thursday, November 03, 2011

FBI releases 2010 SVR Spy Ring information

Last Monday, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation released a large amount of information, including documents, images and videos, on last year's case of illegal Russian intelligence agents, operating in the United States.

The decade-long counterintelligence operation, codenamed Ghost Stories, resulted in the arrest and expulsion of ten agents of the SVR (Russian Foreign Intelligence). More on this story is found on the FBI news page, and all released material is published on the FBI's The Vault webpage.

Below two remarkable videos from typical clandestine techniques, taken by the FBI during operation Ghost Stories. Both events are describes on page 8 of the complaint United States vs Zottoli (real name Mikhail Kutzik) and United States vs Metsos (disappeared after his arrest in Cyprus).

The first video, made in Queens, New York, on May 16, 2004, shows Christopher Metsos, executing a brush pass with an official from the Russian Mission to the United Nations. Metsos receives a bag containing money. A brush pass is a clandestine transfer of objects or documents by exchanging identical items, such as a shopping bag or a news paper.

The second video, made near Wurtsboro, New York, on June 8, 2006,  shows Michael Zottoli, recovering a package from a dead drop, containing money, buried by Christopher Metsos. A dead drop is a container, often hidden on a public place, that is used for clandestine transfer without the two participant ever meeting each other. The courier hides the container, signals the receiver that a drop is executed and the content is retrieved later on (hours, day or even years after the drop).

For an overview of this spy case, see also these previous posts:

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