An American citizen of Russian origin has been arrested in Russia upon accusations of espionage, according to local reports.
The Lefortovo Court of Moscow had authorized the arrest of Gene Spector, but it wasn’t clear if he had been taken into custody.
Russian news agencies said Spector had previously been convicted in a bribery case against the former assistant to former Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich. He was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for that alleged offense.
“The court granted the request of the investigation to detain US citizen Spector on charges under Article 276 (espionage) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation,” the state-owned TASS news agency reported.
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Fox News Digital has reached out to the State Department and the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Spector was born and raised in Leningrad, but later moved to the U.S. and became a citizen, TASS reported. He was the chairman of the board of directors of the Medpolymerprom Group of Companies, which specialized in drugs for cancer. He was previously accused of mediating the transfer of bribes to Anastasia Alekseeva, Dvorkovich’s ex-assistant.
In a Thursday interview with CNN, National Security Council strategic communications coordinator John Kirby said there were no updates on Spector or his possible arrest.
“No, I’m afraid we’re still digging into that kind of reporting, too. We just don’t have any updates,” he said.
Rebekah Koffler, a strategic military intelligence analyst and former senior official at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), told Fox News Digital that Russia continues to “hunt for Americans on Russian soil who can be imprisoned for any possible pre-text.”
“Why? Because Joe Biden’s naiveté encourages this sort of hostage diplomacy. It works every single time,” she said. “The Russians are able to compel the Biden administration to exchange ordinary Americans for high-value assets such as the former GRU military intelligence officer nicknamed “Merchant of Death,” Victor Bout.”
Bout was exchanged for WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was imprisoned in Russia for 10 months following her arrest at an airport for bringing less than a gram of cannabis oil in vape cartridges into the country. The exchange drew heavy criticism because Bout was serving a 25-year sentence in U.S. prison after being convicted in 2011 of conspiracy to kill Americans, conspiracy to deliver anti-aircraft missiles and aiding a terrorist organization.
In April, Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged his Russian counterpart to release two Americans being held in Russian prisons, Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who is being detained on espionage allegations, as well as former Marine Paul Whelan.
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Whelan has been detained since 2018 on spy charges his supporters say are baseless. Relations between Washington and Moscow have been tense following Moscow’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine and the U.S.’ continued supply of military aid to Kyiv.
“Biden’s White House traded Bout for Britney Griner. Next, the Russians arrested Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter,” Koffler said. “A few days ago, the Biden administration struck another misguided prisoner exchange deal, with Iran. The Russians know how to push Biden’s buttons.”
Koffler, who was born in the former Soviet Union and authored “Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America,” noted that Russia typically charges American with espionage because it carries long prison sentences, which makes that American a high-value candidate for an exchange.