The announcement came at an awkward time, just days after a visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry during which Washington and Moscow agreed to try to bring the warring sides in Syria together for an international peace conference.
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The Federal Security Service said Ryan Fogle, a third secretary at the US Embassy in Moscow, had been detained overnight carrying "special technical equipment", a disguise, a large sum of money and instructions for recruiting his target.
Fogle arrested (Photo: AP)
The Russian Foreign Ministry said it had summoned US Ambassador Michael McFaul over the case and a Russian television station published photographs which it said showed Fogle being detained, apparently wearing a blond wig.
"Such provocative actions in the spirit of the Cold War will by no means promote the strengthening of mutual trust," the Foreign Ministry said.A successor of the Soviet-era KGB, the FSB said Fogle worked for the Central Intelligence Agency and that he had been handed over to embassy officials at some point after his detention.
Diplomats accused of espionage are usually expelled or withdrawn.
"Recently American intelligence has made multiple attempts to recruit employees of Russian law enforcement organs and special agencies, which have been detected and monitored by Russian FSB counterintelligence," the FSB said in a statement.
The embassy declined comment. Russia Today television published photographs on its website which it said showed Fogle being detained. In one photograph, a man lies face-down on the ground with his arms held behind his back by another man, and apparently wearing a blond wig.
Arrested and expelled (Photo: AP)
Items found in Fogle's possesion (Photo AFP)
Another image showed two wigs, apparently found on him, as well as three pairs of glasses, a torch, a mobile phone and a compass. Aldo displayed was a wad of 500-euro ($650) notes and an envelope addressed to a "dear friend".
Incriminating letter (Photo: EPA)
"This is an advance from someone who has been highly impressed by your professionalism, and who would highly value your cooperation in the future," the letter said.
"We are willing to offer you $100,000 and discuss your experience, expertise and cooperation, and payment could be significantly larger, if you are willing to answer concrete questions," it said, offering $1 million a year for long-term cooperation plus possible bonuses for useful information.
The United States and Russia are still involved in espionage, more than two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, and the FSB said such incidents were not unusual.
The last major espionage scandal occurred in 2010, when 10 Russian agents including Anna Chapman were arrested in the United States and later deported in exchange for four Russians imprisoned on
charges of spying for the West.
US-Russian relations turned colder after former KGB spy Vladimir Putin returned to the presidency a year ago.
The United States and Russia are also trying to improve counterterrorism cooperation following the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15. FBI chief Robert Mueller visited Moscow for talks last week.
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