New Spy Case Shows Russia Up to Old Tricks


Three men accused in the latest Russian spy case didn’t hide behind fake identities and weren’t stealing military secrets. Their alleged plot to dig up “economic intelligence” on possible banking penalties and alternative energy sources and U.S. authorities insist the case is proof that Russian spying is thriving in America more than two decades after the end of the Cold War.

It also shows the time and resources the U.S. still throws at those suspected of being Putin-era spies, using methods developed before many of them were born: listening bugs, hidden cameras and intercepted phone calls.

“Russian spies continue to seek to operate in our midst,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara warned after the arrests last week. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich countered by accusing U.S. authorities of manufacturing a spy scandal as part of its “anti-Russian campaign.”

Annemarie McAvoy, a Fordham Law professor and former federal prosecutor, said the latest case shouldn’t be taken lightly.

“We have to be concerned about the economic warfare end of this. That’s what worries me,” she said, noting the recent crippling cyberattack on Sony Pictures.

She said the arrests might demonstrate that the spy game has changed as countries seek information to poise themselves to attack businesses and the economy. “It’s not looking for military secrets. That’s almost passe now,” McAvoy said.