Spy suspects had interests in science, finance (3)

08:16, June 30, 2010      

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"He was always interested in languages, global politics and other cultures," Shirokov said. "He liked to go to banquets to meet people. He did a lot of that in New York. We always thought he is networking in order to land the jobs of his dreams. ... He said, `My dream job would be something in international relations, an NGO or something like that.'"

A number of the suspects had interests in finance.

One couple, who went by the names Michael Zottoli and Patricai Mills, had taken an advanced finance course at the University of Washington when they were living in Seattle, according to their former instructor, Ufuk Ince. Cynthia Murphy earned a master's degree in business administration from Columbia University this year.

Chapman lived close to the New York Stock Exchange and described herself in numerous Web postings as being on the hunt for investment opportunities in the U.S. and Russia.

Russian officials initially denounced the arrests as "Cold War-era spy stories" and accused elements of the U.S. government of trying to undermine the improving relationship between Moscow and Washington.

But the White House and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin expressed confidence that the arrests would not damage ties between the two nations.

Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Saban Center, said it was a "classic KGB-style" operation, in which Russian intelligence officials plant moles and "hope that they will produce something years and maybe even decades later."

"They're trying to get someone into a position of influence, where someone becomes the friend of, let's say, the president of a think tank who may become a Cabinet member in the next administration," Riedel said. "And then you have someone who not only can ask that Cabinet member questions, but might be able to influence what they're doing."

Source: Agencies / People's Daily Online

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