Russia charges former employee of US mission with espionage

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) on Monday charged a former employee of the US Consulate General in Vladivostok with espionage, according to a state news agency report.

Russian state news agency TASS reported that the FSB charged Robert Shonov with “cooperation on a confidential basis with a foreign state” under Article 275.1 of the country’s criminal code.

The report further said that the FSB found Shonov working for Jeffrey Sillin and David Bernstein of the political department of the US Embassy in Moscow, collecting information on the course of the country's "special military operation" in Ukraine between September 2022 and May 2023 “for material reward.”

It also said that Shonov was found collecting information on mobilization processes in Russia's regions, "problematic moments" and "their impact on protest activity of the population on the eve of the presidential elections in the Russian Federation in 2024."

It added that the FSB plans to interrogate the diplomats in question.

The FSB detained Shonov in May after which he was taken to Moscow and placed in Lefortovo prison following the charges, which carries a prison sentence of up to eight years.

The US State Department condemned Shonov’s arrest, saying the allegations against Shonov are “wholly without merit.”

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