Russian spy ring ’groomed their American children to become agents’
When the 10 spies were busted in 2010, officials suggested they were largely ineffectual, but new claims suggest they were looking at long-term work in the U.S. by breeding their own future agents.
Tim Foley, the son of two members of the ring living in Cambridge, Masachusetts, was among the children most extensively groomed, U.S. officials told the Wall Street Journal.
Foley, who was 20 when his parents were arrested and a student at George Washington University,stood up and saluted ’Mother Russia’ when asked to follow in his parents’ footsteps, officials said.
He also agreed to travel to Russia to start formal training, they added.
Andrei Bezrukov and Yelena Vavilova, living in the U.S. under the names Donald Heathfield and Tracey Foley, had told their son they spied for Moscow some time before their arrest.
Officials did not reveal where or when the conversation between Foley and his parents took place or if he went to Russia before their arrests, although he did eventually go there.
’There was much more to this than just trying to make friends with important people,’ one official told the Journal. ’This was a very long-term operation.’
The spy ring was busted in 2010; the FBI had known about it for a decade and their homes were bugged. A background check for a job with the government might have led to their arrests.
Officials said information gathered from surveillance suggested there was a longer-term plan to recruit more of their children. The 10 agents had seven children, aged between one and 20.
The Wall Street Journal suggests children reared in the U.S. were potentially more valuable in spy terms than their parents because they would be more likely to pass government background checks.
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