Sunday, 22 September, 2019

Rescue of Central Intelligence Agency spy left blind spot at Kremlin

US pulled spy from Russia due to safety concerns under Trump: report Did the CIA pull a spy out of Russia out of fear Trump would expose him?
Patty Aguilar | 10 September, 2019, 14:58

The exfiltration was first reported by CNN.

The unnamed individual was key in providing information that led U.S. intelligence to conclude Putin directly orchestrated Russian interference in favor of Trump and against his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, the Times said.

Journalist Aaron Mate called the whole thing "fishy", noting that there is a history of leaks from the intelligence community to "create a false link" between Trump and Russian Federation, advance the "Russiagate" narrative, and then blame Trump for the supposed vulnerability of these alleged sources.

A top US spy who was reportedly evacuated from Russian Federation could have been a senior Kremlin official's aide who now lives in the Washington, D.C., area, the Kommersant business daily has reported.

The Washington Post reported that the CIA's information relied on "sourcing deep within the Russian government". Instead, Brennan sent separate intelligence reports, many based on the source's information, in special sealed envelopes to the Oval Office.

On Monday, CNN reported that a high-level intelligence asset was exfiltrated from Russia in 2017 after senior officials grew concerned that the president may unintentionally expose the person to Russian officials.

United States agents extracted a high-level Russian government source who had confirmed Vladimir Putin's direct role in interfering in the 2016 presidential election, American media reported.

The New York Times reported that the unnamed Russian spy had been recruited and cultivated "decades" ago. For its part, the New York Times noted that the "longtime source landed an influential position that came with access to the highest level of the Kremlin".

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Some operatives had other reasons to suspect the source could be a double agent, according to two former officials, but they declined to explain further.

Leaving behind one's native country is a weighty decision, said Joseph Augustyn, a former senior CIA officer who once ran the agency's defector resettlement center.

The Times said the informant was not with in Putin's innermost circle, but had access to high-level Kremlin decision-making.

"It's quite likely", the official continued, "that the US intelligence community would already be taking a hard look at extracting any USA assets who would have been subject to increased levels of scrutiny" following the assessment's publication. A CIA spokeswoman responding to the CNN report called the assertion that Trump's handling of intelligence drove the reported extraction "misguided speculation".

The United States successfully extracted from Russian Federation two years ago one of its highest-level covert sources inside the Kremlin, multiple Trump administration officials with direct knowledge told CNN.

Meanwhile, US network NBC claimed to have found a man living in the Washington area who - according to two Federal Bureau of Investigation sources - matched the descriptions of the man in the CNN report.

The agency has long struggled to recruit sources close to Putin, a former intelligence officer himself wary of CIA operations. But, he said, there was little doubt that revelations about the extraction are "going to make recruiting assets in Russian Federation even more hard than it already is".

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