Russia seeks Interpol help to locate alleged CIA informant
Iran Press TV
Fri Sep 13, 2019 08:28AM
Russia has called on Washington through Interpol to provide information regarding the whereabouts of a former Kremlin official that US media have alleged to be a CIA mole who was whisked to safety in 2017 by covert US operatives.
"A citizen of Russia disappeared on the territory of a foreign state along with his family," said Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, in a Thursday press briefing. "Two years later, the American media tosses out a story that he is on US territory."
"It goes without saying that this information demands verification through appropriate procedural norms," Zakharova added. "With that in mind, Interpol was presented with questions regarding the disappearance of a foreign citizen and his presence on the territory of the United States."
The Russian spokesperson further underlined that the latest US media reports alleging election meddling by Moscow were linked to American domestic politics as campaigning by 2020 presidential candidates heats up, saying: "This is classic propaganda."
The alleged CIA informant, identified earlier this week in Russian press reports as Oleg Smolenkov, was extracted by US intelligence operatives in Europe during a family holiday in Montenegro in June 2017, according to a CNN report.
Smolenkov, according to a New York Times report, was a mid-level Russian official the CIA had recruited decades ago who had rapidly moved up through the ranks at the Kremlin. He eventually landed "an influential position" that included access to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
CNN went as far as claiming that Smolenkov had confirmed to US intelligence that Putin personally oversaw Moscow's alleged meddling in the US presidential polls.
Russia filed its request from the Interpol a day after Moscow slammed as lies US press reports that Smolenkov had confirmed alleged Russian meddling in the American 2016 presidential election in efforts to help Donald Trump defeat his Democratic Party rival Hillary Clinton.
While the Kremlin has persistently denied playing any role in the US election, American officials and media have not been able to point to any specific evidence showing official Russian efforts to interfere in the election process.
"He couldn't have had any role in so-called (election) meddling because there was no meddling," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said on Wednesday as quoted by the Interfax news agency.
CNN said that the alleged CIA spy had been feeding information to the United States for decades, and had direct contact with Putin.
Meanwhile, Moscow confirmed this week that Smolenkov had worked in the Kremlin, but noted that he had been sacked several years ago and had no access to the Russian president. Putin's spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, further described the CNN report as "pulp fiction."
Russian lawmaker, Franz Klintsevich, who sits on the upper house's defense and security committee, also dismissed CNN's story as "a fake" aimed at undermining Trump and portraying him as incompetent and "capable of ruining almost the entire US intelligence network with his awkward actions."
Smolenkov living in Washington under US protection
According to the latest US press reports on the whereabouts of Smolenkov, he currently resides in Washington DC and owns a luxurious home in the nearby city of Stafford, Virginia. NBC News also reported on Tuesday that its reporter knocked on Smolenkov's door, but was confronted with two men that he described as apparent US government security agents.
The NBC report did not identify Smolenkov by name at the time, identifying him only as a former senior Russian official living in the area under US government protection. It further noted that it was withholding the informant's name and other key details at the request of US officials who say revealing the information could endanger his life.
However, the broadcaster then added that "the former Russian government official… with access to secrets, was living openly under his true name."
It added that when its correspondent went to his house and rang the doorbell, no one answered but "five minutes later, two young men in an SUV came racing up the street and parked immediately adjacent to the correspondent's car," identifying themselves "only as friends of the Russian" and asking what he was doing there.
NBC then cited a "former senior national security official" as saying that the men were likely US government agents monitoring Smolenkov's house.
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