[ET] 120199 Russia holds diplomat 'caught spying'
- Russia holds diplomat 'caught spying'
By Marcus Warren in Moscow
RUSSIAN intelligence boasted yesterday of catching a CIA officer working
under diplomatic cover as she prepared to take delivery of what it called
"military-strategic materials" in Moscow.
Cheri Leberknight, listed as a second secretary at the US embassy, was
detained in possession of a detailed map of the area, invisible ink "tablets" and
a device to monitor and hamper efforts to tape her conversations, a
Russia's domestic intelligence service also released photographs of Miss
Leberknight, who is in her thirties, taken during her detention, as well as the
anti-surveillance equipment she allegedly had with her.
Alexander Zdanovich, spokesman for the FSB, successor to the KGB, said:
"This is pointless to deny. Arresting a foreign diplomat or someone working
under diplomatic cover is a very serious step so everything was thoroughly
The FSB was clearly elated at the operation's success, crowing that Miss
Leberknight was the second female CIA officer apprehended in Moscow.
The first, described as Martha Peterson, was caught in 1977. Rivalry between
Russian and US intelligence has recently recovered much of the edge it had
during the Cold War, with both sides accusing the other of excessive spying
on their territory.
Rows over espionage have also increased tension over Russia's military
campaign in Chechnya and Nato's presence in the Balkans. President
Yeltsin's recent walk-out from an international summit in Istanbul was
presented at home as a diplomatic triumph and the detention of a CIA officer
in Moscow is further ammunition for those whipping up anti-western